Brendan Shortley discovered this world on the shores of Lake Erie. He has been recognized by various communities for his research and leadership in the areas of health, education, and service for over 30 years, including community service awards from city governments in South Florida and Gainesville. His work with homeless populations began in 1984 in South Florida, through street outreach efforts in the poorest neighborhoods. He started his college career at the University of Florida, where he earned degrees in neurobiology and psychology, with a minor in pathology. He conducted years of research in the fields of neurology, physiology, therapy effects on childhood cancer patients, etc. He also taught college students at a learning center in the fields of chemistry, physics, biology, anatomy and physiology. He later founded his own learning center in town, and it won the 2013 award for Outstanding Service to the Community. Recent accomplishments include being elected chairman of the North Central Florida Coalition for the Homeless and Hungry in 2013. It was then that he jointly founded the million-dollar Empowerment Center for the Homeless and Hungry (GRACE Marketplace) in 2014. This Center now serves over 300 clients per day. Brendan continues to serve on the Coalition’s Governance Board of Directors. He was elected Chair of the County Commissioners’ Health Care Advisory Board in 2013, and has served for every term since then. He is also involved in the National Association of County and City Health Officials Community Health Improvement Project in their Healthy Communities Initiative and Forces of Change Steering Committees.
He came to Helping Hands in the early years of its humble beginnings at the Salvation Army. He quickly began running check-in, processing patients, training volunteers/students, etc. functioning as the clinic manager. Brendan expanded further into roles such as Program Management, Volunteer Coordination, Clinic Management, and Finance/Grant Coordination. He also helped oversee the transition to the solely-occupied, two-story building where the clinic is currently located. Brendan is our Executive Director.