About Home and Heart

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Home & Heart began in early 2018, as an internship project of two Masters of Social Work students, aided by professor Sue Steiner, from California State University, Chico. At the time the City of Chico had less than 2% vacancy rate, and older adults were especially vulnerable to the lack of affordable housing options. Many were already facing homelessness or barriers to aging in place including inflated costs of living, lack of affordable caregiving options, and limited fixed incomes. To address these issues, Home & Heart was designed as an intergenerational shared housing program that matched older adults who had an extra bedroom and needed help aging in place, with mature college students seeking affordable housing. Then in November 2018 the Camp Fire tore through Butte County destroying most of Paradise and large portions of the surrounding communities as well. Roughly 50,000 people were displaced in a matter of hours and our community did not have the housing resources to meet the need. Older adults were disproportionately affected in this loss. While we still believe in an intergenerational model of home sharing, the home seeking population with the greatest need has been older adults, many of whom are Camp Fire survivors. Flexing to the needs of the community, Home & Heart is open to all adult home seekers and providers throughout Butte County.


Our mission is to expand affordable housing options, assist older adults to age safely in place, and to decrease social isolation in Butte County by facilitating relationships through home sharing.


Our vision is a world in which every heart has a place to call home.

Meet The Team


Sierra Schmidt

MSW, Program Director & Founder

Sierra has a number of years of experience working with older adults in various settings. She also has experience in program development and evaluation, fundraising, and grant writing.

Cathryn Carkhuff

BSW, M.A.Ed, Executive Director

Cathryn has over ten years of experience working with diverse community based organizations.  In Philly, she worked with youth and their families at an arts and cultural center.  In San Francisco, Cathryn worked with the Youth Leadership Institute leading a youth grantmaking program and most recently she worked with CAVE at CSU, Chico.

Board of Directors

Sue Steiner

Ph.D., MSW, Board Chair

Sue has more than 30 years’ of community social work experience, including a focus on housing. She has taught community organizing, social welfare policy, program development and program evaluation at Arizona State University and California State University, Chico for almost 30 years.

Kyle Willman

Board Treasurer

Kyle is completing his Master’s degree in Public Policy from Chico State. He has spent years doing intensive case management as a Child Welfare Social Worker with a variety of populations. He worked for the Housing Support program within CalWorks Welfare to Work program assisting families in obtaining housing. He currently is currently in the position of Health Assessment, Planning, and Equity Coordinator for the Butte County Department of Public Health.

Shannon Simmons


Shannon has worked for seven years as a mental health clinician, mostly providing counseling and mental health education to older adults throughout Butte County with Passages. Shannon also has a background working with individuals with intellectual disabilities/mental health challenges. She is passionate about being a part of Home and Heart board, and being a part of creative solutions addressing homelessness/insecure housing. In her spare time, Shannon enjoys spending time with family, her pets, and participating in the sport of roller derby.

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Amber Benedict


Amber was an activities director for a memory care facility before pursuing her education in social work. She chose this career path because she wanted to help find solutions for the unhoused community. She spent two years with Chico Housing Action Team as an intern and is now the Program Manager with CHAT where she works to house people living with a mental illness.