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Volunteer of the Year 2019: Susan Harman

Written by: Bessie Dudu


As a young child growing up in Lethbridge, Susan enjoyed spending time with her family. She has fond memories of family trips and experiencing different cultures. For the past four decades, she has called Calgary home and has a strong sense of giving back to the community.

A very special time for Susan and her family is Christmas: a time when everyone comes together to spend quality time and exchange gifts with one another. One Christmas, they decided as a family that rather than spending money buying gifts for themselves, they would use the opportunity to help other families in need.

Having got wind of the Adopt-a-Family initiative run by Closer to Home, which helps low-income families in the Calgary community access Christmas support, they put money together to make a contribution to the initiative. And last year, Susan decided to become one of the Adopt-a-Family volunteers – helping to sort gift packages in preparation for delivery to families. “It feels good putting the gifts together for the kids,” she says enthusiastically.

After being very impressed with the passion of the Closer to Home staff and volunteers and subsequently seeing the impact of their work in the community – in 2018, Closer to Home served approximately 350 families during Adopt-a-Family and is able to serve 2,200 vulnerable children, youth and families annually – Susan decided to volunteer in more ways. Now retired, she assists with fundraising for Closer to Home, helping out with administrative duties, mail outs and soliciting donations for the silent auction at the Report to the Community Meeting.

On being named as the recipient of this year’s Volunteer of the Year Award, a humble Susan was very surprised.

“I’ve only been volunteering for a short time; I haven’t done much,” she says.

Explaining her motivation for the cause, Susan says she is inspired by the need to help children get a positive early start in life and is passionate about organizations that help keep families together.

She admires the “passion and knowledge” of everyone at Closer to Home as they strive to meet the needs of vulnerable children and their families.

Congratulations to our 2019 Volunteer of the Year, Susan Harman!