Volunteer Appreciation: Susan

In honor of National Volunteer Week – and to shed a little light in the midst of all the uncertainty – we’re excited to share our April volunteer spotlight, Susan! Susan has been a volunteering at CMC for several years, and has also been one of the first to start teaching remotely while the Center is closed. 

After moving from the Quad Cities to Cedar Rapids, Susan was looking to get involved and find new places to serve her community. 

“Some good friends invited me to go to a training session with them as they knew, like them, I was trying to find some places to plug in and serve after my move.”

There were several things that drew Susan to the Catherine McAuley Center after her initial introduction, including her faith, background in education, and the free time that comes along with having an empty house. 

“The things that drew me here are the opportunity to use my education background, and my heart for and interest in immigrants. Things that make it easy to do now are that I no longer have kids at home to care for and no longer “have” to work for pay to help provide braces, or help with college tuition and books. It’s a joy to help others and give back!”

As a long term tutor, Susan has established many relationships and reasons to keep coming back to the Center, even beyond what initially caught her attention. In regards to what has kept her invested over the years, Susan said “The satisfaction and joy of developing relationships with my students and seeing them progress, and the supportive and encouraging people involved with tutoring through CMC and St. Jude’s.”

“The biggest highlight is getting to know my students and hear their stories. It has often been amazing to hear what they have been through and what they still face now.  It’s also increased my appreciation of my own Norwegian immigrant relatives and what they went through coming to a brand new land, language and culture not that many generations ago.”

Susan has also been one of the first tutors to start volunteering online since the Center has been closed due to the COVID-19 outbreak. Despite being self described as “not techy”, she has met with both of her usual students, with one of them logging on for up to three lessons a week. 

“Other than the harsh reality check of seeing myself on ‘camera’, it’s worked really well! I picked up books at the office by coordinating with Claire. For tests, she’s sent me links that I’ve sent to my student while I ‘proctored’ on video at the same time for test integrity. The more frequent lessons seem to be really helping and she’s on the brink of starting the next book, which I dropped off for her just today!  Even though different, I think it’s been a good experience for both of us.”

When asked about whether or not she plans to keep tutoring remotely for the extent of social distancing, Susan had no doubts. 

“Absolutely!  I left the door open with one student to just let me know a day and time that works for her when she’s ready again. My other student has been very eager and hard working. Inspired by her example, her fiance requested help finding someone to tutor via technology, so he’s off and running, too! I’m thankful for the accelerated learning the current system provides for her and happy to be part of her journey.”