Office Doors: A Day With Dan Shufelt

Posted By on November 7, 2019
Dan Shufelt

President and CEO of Arizona Helping Hands

As told to Julie Coleman


Serving as president and CEO of Arizona Helping Hands has taken over my life. It is my passion, my drive. The reason I get out of bed in the morning is to make good things happen for kids in foster care. I usually start the day with a little bit of quiet time and focus. I’m still a newspaper guy, so I like sitting out on the porch and having a cup of coffee and reading the newspaper.


Since I am a morning person, I’m usually one of the first people in the office with coffee in hand. My day starts with checking my email, phone calls and interacting with the early morning staff before the client stream begins.


Throughout the day, we have a steady stream of clientele who have appointments for services, including new beds, cribs, clothing, diapers and all of the other good things that we’re helping them out with. With a staff of 11 and 1,000 volunteers, there is always activity going on, whether we are figuring out what donations are coming in the back door, how we’re going to utilize those items, how our inventory is being managed, how many birthday program packages need to be created and whether we have enough volunteers to do that.


The most important role I have consists of two things: friending and funding. It’s making new friends for the organization who can help us keep the business going and finding the resources to put those items in the hands of children in foster care who need them. Social media is a key tool for our organization. It’s helped us grow dynamically and raise awareness of our organization with our clientele, funders and the community. And it has helped us also connect with businesses, especially on LinkedIn.

I’m very active on social media and always busy responding to the 8,500 connections I have and making sure that messages I’m putting out are being properly transmitted, and that I’m responsive to the people who are reaching out to me, asking questions about how they can be involved and what they can do.


Interacting with the community is the biggest part of my work. I spend a lot of time talking on the phone and I spend all my energy trying to get individuals in the door because I believe the work we do is very visual. We want people to have the opportunity to walk the floor, see directly what’s involved in the things we do and the nature of the extensive services we offer. I think to have somebody truly connect with our mission, it takes that. I’ll introduce people to the staff, our clients and volunteers and have them share why they’re here. That’s so impactful, so meaningful to have that direct connection. The thing I enjoy doing the most is introducing people to this magical place that is Arizona Helping Hands and letting them experience, witness and understand how important the work we do is.


By background, I’m a CPA and have also run a real estate trust for the last 30-plus years. So professionally I was very technically oriented, and that side of my brain was the one that was engaged. My biggest fear dating back to my youth was public speaking. It scared me to death to get in front of a group. But this role has changed my life.

It was a kind of overnight conversion. Knowing that I have a purpose to speak, an important message to transmit, and the knowledge to tell it has taken away any fear. Living this experience every day builds the repertoire of things to say and important messages to give. I feel like a messenger to talk about how the lives of kids have been impacted by things that other adults have done to these children. We need to do something to help raise them up and give them a sense of belonging, safety and stability.


From an organizational point of view, we have experienced explosive growth over the last five years. Our new building was something that occurred much faster than we anticipated. Our goal was that by the end of 2020, we’d be in our own building and operational. That happened at the end of 2018. So, our 2017 strategic plan was blown out of the water well ahead of schedule. We’re now working on a 2023 plan and talking about what the next steps are for the organization. A major part of that is completing a $3.5 million capital campaign making the organization stable and secure, because we’re going to be here for the long haul for kids in foster care. One of my dreams is that there is no foster-care system. But that’s like saying I want to count how many stars there are in the sky. Unfortunately, with the state of affairs in our society today, there’s always going to be a need for foster care and a safe haven for children outside of their biological family because there are circumstances that are not appropriate for children to be in.


When I go home, I reconnect with my wife. Our dinner is kind of cobbled together. As I love being outdoors (if it’s not 110 degrees), I do a crossword puzzle sitting on the patio or walk across the street to the basketball court and shoot hoops. I’m also a little bit of a news junkie and watch way too much CNN and MSNBC as that gets my mind off the day-to-day affairs around here.

To learn more, go to

Julie Coleman

About Julie Coleman

Julie Coleman is a contributing writer for Frontdoors Media.

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