For 27 years, Susan and her husband Eric Wiseman have supported United Way. One morning, many years ago, a neighbor and dear friend confided to Susan that she was the victim of domestic violence. Because of Susan and Eric’s knowledge of the vital programs that United Way supports, Susan called United Way and they were very helpful in advising her friend where to get help.
“I have always been a United Way supporter because they support organizations within our community that help our community,” said Susan.
“If you go around the world, you will find no other country where people feel a desire to help others the way we do,” she said. “It’s in our DNA! And there are so many ways to give, not just financially but with your time. A few hours reading to a child or helping to serve at a food kitchen goes a long way. United Way encourages us to give to our community and works hard to help us do that.”
Susan is a Tocqueville Society donor and dedicated volunteer with United Way of Greater Greensboro. She serves on the Women’s Leadership Council, chaired two United Way Women in Philanthropy Luncheons with more than 700 attendees each, and serves as a mentor to high school students.
“Every kid needs someone to believe in them.”
When asked which Women’s Leadership volunteer experience has meant the most to her, she said “I think it would have to be the day that I found out that the late Dr. Maya Angelou had agreed to be our speaker for the 2013 Women in Philanthropy Luncheon. She has been an inspiration to me since I started reading her books when I was 17 years old. I got to introduce her, hear her speak, and meet her. I will always be grateful for that.”
Susan comes from a long line of educators and has always believed that education is the key to success in life. It was at a United Way dinner six years ago that Susan decided to become a mentor. She was new to Greensboro and was trying to figure out what she wanted to do in her community. A young man spoke at the event and shared how mentoring had saved his life. He had been mentored since sixth grade, and now is a successful business man, and married father of two. It was his powerful testimony that inspired Susan to volunteer as a mentor. “I turned to my husband after he spoke and said, ‘that’s what I want to do’,” she said.
As a loyal mentor at Dudley high School with the Communities in Schools program, Susan said her motivation for serving others is simple, “I love working with high school students. They’re a tough crowd, but they are survivors and it is their last chance at a good life if they get a high school degree. I like working with ‘last chance’ kids. It means so much to them and they are so proud of themselves when they accomplish what no one else believed they could accomplish. Every kid needs someone to believe in them.”
Susan continues to keep in touch with those she has mentored beyond graduation. “One young man still sends me his grades, first from GTCC and now from UNCG, because he want to let me know how well he is doing,” she said.
When asked how the mentees inspire her, Susan said, “In oh so many ways! Every one of the kids I’ve worked with has issues in their lives that have left them unprepared to finish high school without a little help our guidance. And most of them have risen above their issues and done the work. I’ve watched them walk across that stage on graduation day with huge smiles on their faces while their families and friends cheer for them! That’s the day they inspire me. I’ve learned that if you let a young person know that you believe in them and that they are capable, they will rise to your expectations.”
Susan and her husband have lived in many different places and now enjoy Greensboro as their home. They understand the impact of how volunteerism and philanthropy can change lives and give hope to those in greatest need. When Susan was asked about what she loves most about Greensboro she replied, “the people.”
“[Greensboro] is the most generous community we’ve ever lived in,” she said. “So many people here give back in many ways to help other who may be less fortunate.”