Celebrating those who give of themselves.
by Judith Lawrenson
Photography by Bill Lawrenson
Susan Roberts has worn many hats in her professional career. She has been in communications, public relations and business. In fact, she was a partner in a large retail furniture business. She has been a stay-at-home mom, a teacher and a docent. She has helped students with learning issues, and acted as a substitute teacher for local schools. Her arrival story, like many others, began with Hilton Head vacations. She and husband Dean started coming here in the 80s and soon purchased a villa. They moved here permanently 13 years ago and now live in Hilton Head Plantation.
After working for the Beaufort County School System for four years, Susan still was not ready to retire. She accepted an offer from the Boys & Girls Club as an administrative assistant in the Resource Development Department. She managed the donor database, correspondence, reports and statistical information for fundraising.
PINK: Susan what were some of the challenges you faced with such a jump in career and job skills?
Susan: It was a bit of a roller coaster. I’ll start by saying that both by interest and necessity I acquired a lot more skills than I had in 50 years of doing one thing and another. So, when staff changes came along, I also moved along. I moved into event planning. I took a pause, but could not keep away from the Club where I had established a real bond with both the children and the staff. I volunteered there as often as I possibly could!
PINK: What were your next steps at the Club?
Susan: Our mission at the Boys & Girls Club is to help those who need us most and that covers a lot of territory on this Island. Volunteers are very welcome for many of our programs and I try to make sure volunteers are placed in a situation where they are comfortable and have staff to support them. Our afternoon education program is where we use the most volunteers, but we have many other interesting areas. We also like people to bring their own skills and new ideas to us as well.
Susan tells me that the Club has had people volunteer in such varied areas as tennis, violin, jewelry making, cooking, and arts and crafts. There seems to be no limit to what people are willing to do and the talents they are willing to share with the children.
PINK: Talk a bit more about the Boys & Girls Club:
Susan: I get excited when I cross the parking lot to go into the Club. I have since the first time I went for an interview and saw some kids I knew from the school. There is always something going on and I would rather it be that way. I get suspicious if it is too quiet. Life is going on there. The adults, staff and volunteers know there is always something beneath the surface that needs attention. I have found that all the old clichés apply: kids want structure. Kids want to be noticed. Kids want to be secure in their environment. Kids want to be fed. We have to work on those things every day and the only way you can do that is to be there and do what needs to be done. I have a strong sense of purpose and no matter what task I have at the Club, I feel it has a purpose. I have cleaned up many spills and cleaned many a skinned knee. The high point comes every day when a kid says, “Hi, Miss Susan!”
PINK: I know how committed you are at the Boys & Girls Club, but what other activities keep you busy?
Susan: I am a member of St. Andrew by-the-Sea United Methodist Church and I sing in the choir and also in the women’s ensemble. I work with Backback Buddies, Vacation Bible School, and the Fall Festival. I also volunteer at the church reception desk where I often make the mistake of answering the phone with “Hello, Boys & Girls Club!”
I am assistant treasurer and active with the Junior League of Savannah Lowcountry Sustainers. I love that group. Finally, for the first time this year I am a member of a real book club!
PINK: Is there anything else that you would like Pink readers to know?
Susan: Yes, I am very proud to come from a long line of educators. I have an ancestral great-great-grandmother who graduated from Coolville Ladies Seminary (Ohio) in 1838. My grandmother Leighty taught fourth grade. My dad was a high school principal and I always thought he liked the first day of school more than any other day.
Susan Roberts, has done so much for so many. She is a true Charity Angel!
Boys & Girls Club of Hilton Head Island
“For those of us who have spent entire careers in the non-profit world, we know the organizations we love would not be able to function at their highest levels without the tireless efforts of volunteers. At the Boys & Girls Club of Hilton Head Island, our dedicated volunteers offer homework help, coach weekly tennis lessons, run art camps and music classes, teach financial literacy, career prep programs and much more. Volunteers are the beating heart of our organization and we want to say “thank you” a million times over for what you do to further our mission of enabling all young people, especially those who need us most, to reach their full potential as productive, caring and responsible citizens. Truly, our work could not be done without our dedicated volunteers.” — Brooke Newsome, Assistant Unit Director, Boys & Girls Club of Hilton Head Island