SAN DIEGO — Shelly Pinomaki is a finalist in FOX 5’s Remarkable Women initiative, which recognizes the valuable contributions women have made in our community and beyond.
The following is a lightly-edited version of the letter nominating Pinomaki for the initiative:
Shelly Pinomaki is known around our community as Chaplain Shelly. As a volunteer chaplain with the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department, she is steeped in providing support toward those who serve and protect—their welfare is her prime motivation.
Whether it is during her weekly ride-alongs, impromptu meetings or scheduled briefings, she is there to listen and to counsel—not only to the individual sheriff, but to his or her family if need be.
She is well-known within the ranks for providing, at her home, extravagant, drop-in-any-time holiday meals (Christmas, Thanksgiving, Fourth of July) for them, starting as early as 2 a.m.
In the tragic shooting at the Chabad of Poway, she was one of the first on the scene and received a commendation for her efforts, a highly unusual recognition for a volunteer chaplain.
Shelly came by this avocation the hard way. She lost her sister at the hands of a murderer here in San Diego County during Christmas 2011 and witnessed the additional trauma inflicted upon her family from well-meaning friends, families—even professionals—because they had no idea what to say or do. That’s when Shelly became impassioned to help others dealing with emotional pain. Because she had no ministerial degrees, she had to talk her way into where she is today. Proving herself through trial periods and high marks in critical incident training, trauma intervention training, and teaching accreditations with the International Critical Incident Stress Foundation, she became a volunteer with TIP (Trauma Intervention Program) and a chaplain.
But she didn’t stop there. In 2018 she founded an organization called Seeking Hope. Her company teaches and trains emotional first aid techniques: “To provide emotional support, reduce stress, and care for others by providing emotional crisis response training. … To inspire organizations to build teams to care for those in crisis. To share the experiences of walking through life and crisis together.” Her website, Seeking Hope, tells her story.
All of this has had a tremendous impact on her extended family. Emotionally stymied and hard-pressed to move forward, Shelly has been able to walk them through the healing process—something she would have been incapable of doing otherwise. She was able to provide her sister’s two sons, her nephews, the nurturing care they desperately needed.
Shelly’s commission is about serving others. Operating quietly in the background, her mission is to provide support and encouragement to her family and friends—there are no strangers in her life. I have watched her grow into her remarkableness—using a tragic event to shape a new purpose in life — choosing to help others over a successful business career. I have seen how her care and concern, her unselfishness, helps others to bloom, to find a way when there was no visible way. Her actions say: “No one has to fend for themselves, we are all in this together.”