‘Quiet strength’: Colleagues have fond memories of local Boys & Girls Club namesake Soni Sheehan


Staff at the Tom & Soni Sheehan Boys & Girls Club of Noblesville said that the late Sondra “Soni” Sheehan’s legacy is hard to sum up but she was renowned for showing kids they matter and promoting hope and kindness.

Abby Stutesman, director of club operations, said someone with her “generous heart only comes around so often.”

CiN 0123 COVER Soni Sheehan 3
From left, Soni and Tom Sheehan. (Photo courtesy of the Tom & Soni Sheehan Boys & Girls Club of Noblesville)

Soni Sheehan died Dec. 22, 2023, at age 83. She and her husband donated money for the naming rights for the club’s building. Executive Director Becky Terry said the Boys & Girls Club “couldn’t have asked for a more natural fit” for the building’s name.

Sheehan was also a longtime member of the Ladies Auxiliary, according to Kim Hirschfeld, a Ladies Auxiliary member and Boys & Girls Club board member. The auxiliary raises money for the club to defray costs for items, such as field trips and new tents and canoes for camp.

In 1997, Sheehan was honored as Volunteer of the Year for the Boys & Girls Club.

“Soni was more quiet and in the background, and she got things done but she did it in a much more quiet and subtle way of doing things,” Hirschfeld said.

Sheehan provided cookies and punch to members at the UpTop Shop, a holiday shop where items are priced 25 cents. Sheehan would set up candlesticks on a linen tablecloth for the event. Stutesman said the UpTop Shop was Sheehan’s “pride and joy” because she could engage with the youth.

“Some kids don’t know that. They don’t understand linen tablecloths and candlelight dinners,” Stutesman said. “She always made sure that on that event that they felt special, no matter what, that they understood that this was a special event, and it was solely for our club kids.”

Hirschfeld’s favorite memory of Sheehan was seeing her behind the cookie table, “just looking (the kids) in the eyes and seeing into their souls” and talking to them.

If a kid needed medical help, Stutesman said Sheehan would ask staff members about the child and encourage the child’s family to seek help from the Thomas P. and Sondra D. Sheehan Charitable Foundation, which helps children who have medical challenges.

“(Soni) loved kids and wanted to make sure that they had what they needed to be successful, to be who they were meant to be at the highest level,” Terry said.

Stutesman said Sheehan was a strong but quiet leader.

“She had a quiet strength. That’s how I would describe her,” Terry said. “She was a force, but her force of nature wasn’t one that was, like, exuberant. It was a quiet strength, and when she said something, you listened.”

When Terry first met Sheehan at the UpTop Shop, she could tell how important making the event special for the kids was to Sheehan.

“Her sweet soul is going to be missed,” Hirschfeld said. “You don’t find that personality easily in this fast-paced world we live in.”

Soni’s husband Tom Sheehan lives in Noblesville. His passion and support for youth has “been unwavering for decades,” according to the club’s Director of Development Nathan Helm.

“His above-and-beyond commitment to ensuring success for future generations has always been second to none,” Helm stated. “Without Tom & Soni, the Club would not be making the impact it is today.”

CiN 0123 COVER Soni Sheehan 2
Soni Sheehan at the cookies and punch table at the UpTop Shop. (Photo courtesy of Tom & Soni Sheehan Boys & Girls Club of Noblesville)


The UpTop Shop is sponsored by the Ladies Auxiliary at the Tom & Soni Sheehan Boys & Girls Club of Noblesville. The Torch Club at the Boys & Girls Club runs the shop, where people can purchase items, Stutesman said.

Each item is 25 cents. New or gently used items are donated by community members. Members of the auxiliary are on-site to help wrap and serve cookies and punch.