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Please visit Chefalo Consulting - Trauma-Informed Specialist


More Than a Just a Story. A Playbook for Action!

Garbage Bag Suitcase is the true story of Shenandoah Chefalo’s wholly dysfunctional journey through a childhood with neglectful, drug-and alcohol addicted parents. She endured numerous moves in the middle of the night with just minutes to pack, multiple changes in schools, hunger, cruelty, and loneliness.

Garbage Bag Suitcase

Finally at the age of 13, Shen had had enough. After being abandoned by her mother, she asked to be put into foster care. Surely she would fare better at a stable home than living with her mother? It turns out that this was not the storybook ending she had hoped for. With foster parents more interested in the income received by housing a foster child, Shen was once again neglected emotionally. The money she earned working at the local grocery store was taken by her foster parents to “cover her expenses.” When a car accident lands her in the hospital with grave injuries and no one comes to visit her during her three week stay, she realizes she is truly all alone in the world.


Overcoming her many adversities, Shen became part of the 3% of all foster care children who get into college and graduate. She became a successful business woman, got married, and had a daughter. Despite her numerous achievements in life she still suffers from the long-term effects of neglect, and the coping skills that she adapted in her childhood are not always productive in her adult life. Garbage Bag Suitcase is not only the inspiring and hair-raising story of one woman’s journey to overcome her desolate childhood but it also presents grass-root solutions on how to revamp the broken foster care system.


Shenandoah Chefalo

Plagued and embarrassed by her name (a humiliation enhanced by a nomadic childhood that made it impossible to build lasting relationships), Shenandoah Chefalo developed a tough skin at an early age. Along the way, she learned to deal with disappointment, push through discomfort, overcome adversity, and accurately gauge people, qualities that have helped her to succeed.


After spending nearly 20 years as a Law Office Administrator, Shenandoah became unsettled by the ever-revolving door of the criminal justice system and set out to find a way to change it. She attended Coach U and became a certified life coach. Working through that program, Shenandoah began to understand her childhood in a way she never had before.

She began researching and learned that there are nearly 400,000 children in the foster care system each day in the United States. Out of those children, nearly 61% age out of the system without having a place to live; nearly 50% end up incarcerated within two years of aging out; and almost 80% of people on death row are former foster alumni. These (and other statistics) made Shenandoah realize that she had to do something.


She set out on a mission to tell her story and educate the general public about the grim realities of a life that she had always tried to hide. She believes that some of the grassroots solutions she offers in Garbage Bag Suitcase could change the lives of children and the landscape of the country. 


Shenandoah Chefalo is a graduate of Michigan State University (holding a Bachelor of Arts with a Major in Interdisciplinary Studies in Social Science), a Core Essentials Graduate from Coach U, a Certified Law of Attraction Advanced Practitioner, a member of the National Speakers Association, and volunteers with several organizations locally, nationally and internationally. Shenandoah Chefalo is also the author of an e-book entitled Setting Your Vision and Defining Your Goals and is currently working on her next book, Hiking for Stillness: Finding Healing One Step At A Time.

Recent Awards

2017-DAR Women in American History Award 

2017-Best Non-Fiction Ebook from IPPY Awards

2017-Midwest Book Awards, Winner for Best Non-Fiction in Social Science, Political Science & Culture

2017-Independent Publisher Awards, Winner for Best Non-Fiction, Personal E-Book

2016 - Winner of the DAR Women of the Arts Recognition Award 

2016 - Pinnacle Awards-Best Memoir

2016-Beverly Hills Book Awards Best Regional Memoir

2016-Winner, Readers Choice Memoir


Recent Reviews of Garbage Bag Suitcase


Forward Reviews

"This well-crafted and controlled personal narrative avoids the traps of sentimentality that are easy to fall into when exploring emotional territory."


Adoption & Foster Care Blog

"Shenandoah has shared her story not only to inspire others who have been through or find themselves in a similar experience- but she has the desire to create an open and honest discussion about what it's like to be a child in the foster care system."


Donna McBroom: Theriot My Life. One Story at a Time

"I was only supposed to read and review the first couple of chapters of Garbage Bag Suitcase. Once I began reading the book, I couldn’t put it down."

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Empowering People & Organizations to Thrive

Using a collaborative and holistic approach to improve performance

Bring Out the Best in Yourself & Your Teams

It’s all-too-common for people in the world today to be overworked, overwhelmed, and burnt out. This can be especially frustrating if you are leading a team of people who feel this way and you are not sure how you’re going to turn that ship around!

In addition to all the inherent demands of your workplace, you may also work with or help children and adults that have suffered trauma which often adds to your already challenging jobs.

When you’re not at your best it’s hard to truly serve others. We understand, which is why coaching our clients to resolve their personal trauma, be resilient when issues arise, and be sensitive to the trauma and needs of others is paramount to the success of our coaching.

Addressing the Root of the Problem

Whether you’re struggling with project management, implementation of systems, or team / personal dysfunction, most people have some form of trauma. We often are unknowingly affected by this personal history, and it can impair our ability to function effectively in our personal and professional lives.

Problems that are mainly at home can affect your work-life, and vice versa, which is why Chefalo Consulting believes that every individual needs the tools to find happiness. When a person is in more control of their own happiness, they become more effective members of their teams, family, and peer groups.

By ensuring that everyone has the tools to thrive personally and professionally, people can perform at their best and effectively serve their organizations and communities.

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Turn Training into Action

Organizations often invest a great deal of time, money, and energy into their teams learning new skills, information, and necessary processes. However, that ‘learning’ phase is often where many stop.
Either that or if a new process gets implemented right away, they quickly fade and teams fall back into old habits.


First, let me say it’s not your fault. Many forms of learning and training are literally meant to fill your brain up, but not necessarily tell you what to do with that new knowledge or how to keep things going long-term.

We’ll head-off the inevitable post-training-slump by teaching your teams tactics that will help them ensure new processes get properly implemented and stick around for the long-run. 

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