Volunteer Spotlight: Marianne

volunteer spotlight Marianne Suffern
Marianne Suffern (left) with
Executive Director, Wendy Graeb
Meet Marianne,
Connection Board Member!


Tell us how you first became involved with The Connection:

I first got involved after attending Winterfest a year or two. I was asked to help organize the fabulous party, perhaps around 2004. I had signed Katie up for a dance class at The Connection by then and had noticed the bustling environment as I waited for her preschool age class to finish. I worked on Winterfest for several years because it was such a great experience, mostly because of the interesting, hardworking volunteers and employees I met.

How have you seen lives/the community impacted because of your efforts?
I’ve seen direct results from the efforts of Board members and volunteers! It’s impossible to avoid the great impact of the scholarship fund when you walk the halls of The Connection. It has helped so many families, enabling their children to attend all varieties of classes and aftercare. This allows their parents to earn a living knowing their children are in a safe and happy place.

I have seen partnerships form between The Connection and local nonprofits, schools, volunteer organizations and community groups that have created lasting bonds, benefitting dozens of children, hundreds of families, and thousands of community members at a time. Examples of their impact include high schoolers’ tap dance practice for the musical in the dance studio and meals provided for needy families during times when school is not in session. These partnerships highlight the importance of The Connection to the Summit community.

How has your life changed by volunteering?
Among the organizations in which I have spent my time in Summit, The Connection has made the most lasting impact on my life. Most importantly, I have cultivated wonderful friendships while spending time in various volunteer positions here. Working with people toward a common goal such as this has made finding down-to-earth, warm and welcoming friends easy. Also, I have realized personal strengths and weaknesses through my committee and Executive Board positions.

I have learned additionally how much satisfaction I get from giving time to something so worthwhile. It’s hard not to feel some pride when admitting to someone that you are in some way a part of something as special as The Connection.

What do you wish other people knew about The Connection?
I wish more people in Summit knew two very meaningful and unique things about The Connection. First, the history of The Connection in Summit— what it was in the beginning and what it meant to Summit then, and how it evolved over the years as it grew and met the needs of the community with the cultivation of new talent and energy of its employees, volunteers, managers and directors.

Speaking of employees, the second thing more people should know about is the level of commitment to The Connection nearly every member of the staff develops in a very short time once they start working and becoming enveloped in the culture and atmosphere. Many stay for several years, and nearly all donate to the Scholarship Fund. It’s truly unique, incredibly valuable to the members and volunteers, and it’s contagious!