“If you want to do something, don’t wait. Life is short; life is fleeting. You need to take full advantage of what you have.”
Susan is the type of person who understands the importance of time and is adamant about making the most of it.
Each week since 2011, she has dedicated a good portion of her time to the Foodbank, volunteering at the front desk by greeting visitors and answering phones. “One thing I’ve noticed is that anybody who volunteers here never leaves without a smile on their face,” she says. “They can come in on a grumpy day, but they volunteer here and they feel like they’ve done something to help people.”
Being at the front desk, Susan connects with many individuals seeking food assistance. “The people who tear my heart are the people who never thought they’d be in this position,” she describes.
In her volunteer role, she is also moved by acts of kindness from members of the community, even those in the youngest generation. A memory that stands out for her the most, she says, is a 7-year-old girl who, instead of asking for presents on her birthday, requested that friends and family contribute to the Foodbank. “I thought that was wonderful,” Susan says.
The Foodbank isn’t the only local organization to which Susan has given her time. She is active in the Hampton Roads Jewish community, having served on the Holocaust Commission. It is a role she has been interested in since childhood when she discovered her father’s Time Life books on World War II. “I was fascinated by World War II,” she tells. “Hearing about what happened with people being displaced … I always had some sensitivity to history, and I studied it.” While serving on the Holocaust Commission, Susan joined a group that took survivors to schools to connect them with students who were studying the Holocaust. “They’d share their stories and talk to them about tolerance,” Susan says. “Kids are great; they would just absorb the person.”
Long before her volunteer roles, Susan had two careers—one as a family nurse practitioner and one as a pastry chef. The two paths don’t seem at all connected, but Susan points out that both jobs require an individual who is very focused and task-oriented. She is both of these things and describes herself as being “very measured.” That’s not to say that she can’t be spontaneous on occasion.
Susan started to look at things differently after hearing about September 11 and the impact that it had. “9/11 teaches you that if you want to do something, don’t wait,” she says. Nowadays, she applies the concept of not waiting when she can—especially when she sees a need that can be met.
One day while volunteering, Susan noticed that the Foodbank was low on baby food and formula. “Formula is very expensive, and I was shocked by how expensive it is,” she explains. Without hesitating, she wrote a check that very day so that the Foodbank could restock these items. “I think it’s good to have formulas on hand,” she says. “Nobody should go hungry in this community.”
Susan is the type of person who is straightforward and to the point when it comes to causes she feels strongly about. She has logged hundreds of volunteer hours during her time here, but she doesn’t track them. “It’s not about that,” she says. “I like giving back just as much as I like receiving. That’s why I come to the Foodbank.”