February 25, 2009 Edition

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Sullens has the
heart of a volunteer

Sue Sullens (center) works with and encourages Walnut Ridge Elementary School students, including Chase Jaden (C.J.) Couch, her youngest great-grandson, and Liley Holsapple.

Hollyann Crum
Staff Intern

Sue Sullens of Walnut Ridge may have retired in 1989, but she enjoys the fact that her work is far from finished.

Sullens retired from White River Production Credit, now known as Farm Credit, in May of 1989. She continues to be actively involved in the community even after retirement.

When Sullens' eldest great-grandson, Krischan Couch, began kindergarten in 2005, Lucy Sellers, then kindergarten teacher, current resource teacher at Walnut Ridge Elementary, quickly saw Sullens' gift of a kind, caring spirit.

Sellers requested that Sullens be a grandmother figure to the young children ~ encouraging, loving and supporting them as if they were her own.

"Grandma Sue, we need a hug," Sullens remembers the commonly spoken words. Children can hardly pass her without a wave, a smile or a hug.

"That's why I'm there. I love the children," remarks Sullens.

"She has a heart of gold," said Sellers.

Sullens began as a volunteer grandma and soon after added assisting teachers to her daily agenda. Sullens tutors reading, spelling and math for kindergarten through second grades. She also occasionally assists students in third and fourth grades.

When asked about her daily activities, Sullens replied that she does, "whatever the teachers need."

"She sees a need, jumps in and takes care of it ~ no questions asked," said Sellers.

Sullens makes copies, gathers materials, staples booklets and assists aides and teachers with daily tasks. "I'm really busy, and I love it," smiles Sullens.

Volunteering keeps Sullens on her toes, ideal for the young-at-heart woman who prefers not to just sit at home.

The volunteer is not in it for the praise, though. Sullens commented, "I get more than I give."

Last year, Sullens was honored with a surprise potluck and awarded "Volunteer of the Year 2007-2008." Still surprised and reflective on the event, Sullens commented that it was "just wonderful."

In Nov. of 2007, Sullens was named Mrs. Black Rock Foothills at the annual celebration. The legacy of her late husband, James Sullens, was also honored at the celebration.

Deborah Caspall, Walnut Ridge Elementary School counselor, said, "Grandma Sue is irreplaceable. She is such a valuable asset."

Walnut Ridge School is not the only place that Sullens has left her mark. She was once the secretary for her late husband James, then superintendent at Strawberry School. Sullens also taught Sunday school for four, five and six year olds. She currently collects newspapers and plastic bottles for recycling at a local school.

Sullens serves as treasurer for the Business and Professional Women of Walnut Ridge. She has been awarded Woman of the Year twice, from 1990-1991 and 2003-2004. The honor is presented to the woman whom members feel performs above and beyond the call of duty.

An active member of Mt. Vernon Baptist Church in Black Rock, Sullens serves as church treasurer.

Reflecting on her previous and current volunteering at Walnut Ridge School, Sullens smiles sincerely, "If I can help one child, it will be worth the effort."

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