Name: Kelly Buckingham

Age: 36

Occupation: Licensed clinical social worker

TSP: Tell us about where you work and what you do.

KB: I am the division director of behavioral health for Volunteers of America Northern Rockies. I supervise the clinical operations and behavioral health programs for VOA, which include men’s and women’s residential treatment and transitional living recovery homes, The Life House and The Gathering Place in Sheridan; social detoxification, transitional living and intensive outpatient at the Center of Hope in Riverton; and outpatient services at Booth Hall in Gillette.

TSP: Why did you chose that as your profession?

KB: It could be simply answered that I wanted to help people. When I graduated from Sheridan High School, I wanted to become a funeral director and attend mortuary school and even came home to work for a local funeral home for the summer. It was during that summer job that I realized I wanted to help people for a longer duration of time. It was bothering me that there was so much focus on the family members leading up to the funeral service but then support seemed to drop off immediately. I returned to Cottey College that fall and through internships and talking with my parents who are both counselors, I decided I wanted to be a social worker with an emphasis on children and counseling.

TSP: In a time where people switch jobs more often, tell me about why you’ve stuck with this for so long?

KB: I feel called to the work I do at VOA. When I made the decision to leave the funeral industry, I told myself that if I can help one person, then I will have succeeded. I get to help hundreds of clients a year find the path of hope and healing as they walk a road of recovery from addiction. While I know that some people relapse, I find comfort in knowing that the work we do at VOA has planted seeds of hope and has helped individuals with a hand up.

TSP: Are you involved in anything else outside of work (volunteer work, etc.)? If so, what?

KB: Currently I am serving as the vice president of the Buffalo Children’s Center Board of Directors and my husband, Michael, and I serve on the Parish Council for St. John the Baptist Catholic Church.

TSP: You’re a young professional that grew up here, left and came back, what advice would you give to other young professionals who are considering a move to the area?

KB: Identify your priorities of why you want to move back and be willing to be flexible with your job. My motivation to return to Wyoming after graduate school was to be near family. However, in order to find a job in Sheridan, I had to be willing to work in a different area of social work as my dream was to be a school social worker and there were no jobs available at that time.

TSP: What is your favorite thing about the community?

KB: I love how simple and slow life is here in both Sheridan and Buffalo. We still live in a community where small business thrives and people know each other on a more personal level; whether it is the car mechanic or the checker at the grocery store. While I returned to Sheridan after graduate school, I moved to Buffalo seven years ago to support my husband and our family business of over 60 years, Buckingham Lumber. Another favorite thing about both communities is the support for individuals with special needs. Compared to other areas, Sheridan and Buffalo have a plethora of resources for these individuals and help them succeed to their best potential. My husband and I continue to look forward to raising our daughter, Karlie, who has been diagnosed with Williams syndrome and has thrived due to the services she has received in both Buffalo and Sheridan.