Originally published by the University of Findlay on April 23, 2019. View the original posting.
Susan Perry, director of University of Findlay’s sonography programs, was recognized on April 4, 2019, for her excellence in serving her community through her nonprofit organization Susie’s Coats.
Perry was nominated for a Jefferson Award, which “are given to individuals and groups for excellence in service at a national or international scale.” The awards are presented by Multiplying Good, an organization founded in 1972 as a national awards platform focused on extraordinary achievement in public service.
The mission of Susie’s Coats is to make a positive difference in the lives of others by providing free, warm apparel during the winter months to anyone in need. “Providing a new, warm coat for a child in an adverse environment helps a child feel safe,” Perry said. “If a child feels safe they are certainly more hopeful about their future.”
Perry started the organization in 2006 on her 50th birthday. She made the decision to collect and distribute 50 coats to those in need when she realized there was nothing she wanted or needed for her birthday. When Perry and her daughter held the initiative in downtown Toledo, they saw there was a more significant need.
Ever since, the project has grown with more people donating and accepting donations. In 2018, Susie’s Coats collected and distributed 4,000 items to 1,900 people at two distribution locations. To date, the organization has collected over 20,000 apparel items.
Susie’s Coats also provides free warm winter apparel through United Way 211 and the Kinship Navigator Program, as well as the Toledo Public Schools, Bowling Green Schools, Woodmore Schools, and schools throughout Hancock and Sandusky Counties.
Perry brings the same warmth, compassion, and understanding to the University of Findlay. Susan Watters, former vascular sonography instructor and clinical coordinator at Findlay, said Perry is the most empathetic person she has ever met. “When she learns of someone’s troubles, she is always there to help,” she said. “She always listens and offers encouragement. She goes above and beyond to make sure everyone feels loved and valued.”
Perry’s empathy is not lost on her students. “When students come to her with concerns of an upcoming exam, she often hands over a worry stone, or instructs them to hand over their worries to her with her open hands waiting to take the worry from them and then she pockets the invisible burden and tells them to return for it later,” Watters said.
Perry has also established the Susan M. Benevolent Fund through University Advancement so she can help students with a minor financial need or crisis. “If we can help a student through a tough time, a rigorous academic or clinical semester, it certainly helps them feel more hopeful about their future,” Perry said.