We had the good fortune of connecting with Tempa Sherrill and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Tempa, what was your thought process behind starting your own business?
As a military and first responder spouse, I felt called to start a nonprofit in order to serve veterans, first responders, and their families with much needed mental health services after our own family struggled with finding culturally competent care after my husband deployed to Afghanistan in 2008-2009. Our family struggled to manage my husband’s severe PTSD symptoms and the impact they had on our family. I left an 18 year teaching career and went back to school to study counseling and psychology then began the journey of starting the Stay The Course Program. After my husband Aj was terminated from his 22 year police career due to his PTSD diagnosis, he was forced to retire early. He donated his retirement to help with the start up of Stay The Course.
What should our readers know about your business?
I began Stay The Course in January of 2016 as a 501c3 with just myself and Lindsey Hartley, a Licensed Chemical Dependency Counselor and Marine combat veteran. We began our work together at a previous nonprofit where we started our first veterans program and worked together for 4 years. My dream was to include first responders at Stay The Course. We began partnering with many other community organizations and knew that the overwhelmed VA system needed community services to fill the gaps in services for veterans and families. Based on our family’s experiences we knew that our staff had to be competent in the culture we served. To date every staff member hired has a personal connection with the populations we serve. We are also an off the grid option for those who may be fearful of losing their employment due to the stigma of getting help. This journey was not easy! I had a passion to answer the call, but no clue how to get there. Along the way, the right people with the best skills and gifts to contribute made their way onto the path. We put one foot in front of the other with faith that the right things would happen as long as we stayed true to our purpose. Many lessons have been learned and one of them is that not all people want to see you succeed. There is no room for ego when we are working for a higher purpose that is much bigger than us. Those who are willing to work as a tribe for the greater good are the ones we want in our corner. Peoples’ lives depend on it.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I personally love downtown Fort Worth and many great businesses and restaurants in that area. The Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo, Casa Manana, Bass Hall, Fort Worth Zoo and Botanical Gardens are just a few of our favorites. Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
When searching for a masters program I set up a meeting with Dr. Diana Valdez at Tarleton State University who was a retired Air Force veteran and counseling professor. After sharing my goals to serve our nations heroes and families, a connection was made. I knew it was right for me. Dr. Valdez became a vital part of my journey as teacher, mentor, and eventually friend. There are many mentors and supporters whom I could not have done this without including Judith Alexander Priest, my LPC supervisor, friend, and mentor who helped mold my early experiences as a therapist, as well as Dr. Tom Burdenski, professor and mentor. I want to thank the 22Kill organization, who saw the need for this program and took us under their wing so that we could make these services a priority as one organization now named One Tribe Foundation. And last, but definitely not least is my husband and family who are all a part of this story. Their love and support fueled the journey..
Rick Irving photo credit for headshot