Seattle’s Child is proud to partner with the state Department of Children, Youth and Families Strengthening Families Washington to honor outstanding caregivers doing important work on behalf of children.
All month long, we’ll introduce you to Unsung Heroes from around the state: biological parents, grandparents, foster and adoptive parents. Some volunteer at local schools; some have started nonprofits; some mentor others in their communities. Enjoy their stories.
Susan Barbeau, Tacoma
Susan Barbeau is not only a parent but an advocate for the well-being and resilience of children and families in Pierce County.
She is the mother of a high-energy, intelligent child and the executive director of First5Fundamentals, an organization that uplifts and supports early learning initiatives. Unfortunately, life took a turn and Susan had to begin parenting on her own earlier this year when her husband, her son’s father, passed away unexpectedly. This detrimental moment in life can cause so many subsequent downfalls. However, Susan has shown immense resilience that is admirable. She has often maintained vulnerability and transparency in her work; allowing herself to grieve and celebrate his life.
When he passed away, Susan shared her loss with the community and valued support that would extend farther than just her family. She welcomed donations for a memorial fund in his name, uplifting and continuing his belief that every family and child deserves unconditional love. Susan took time away from her work as the executive director, trusting that the team would continue as expected. Susan has started a personal blog, opening up to the community about life after, and has highlighted the openness and emotional support that has allowed her to move forward while being the best parent to her child while still living through the grieving process within her family.
She has continued to show up for her community and work, not missing a single step in leading her organization to better the lives of children and families.
Nominators: Muriel Herrera-Velasquez & McKinley McPheeters
More Unsung Heroes:
Chelsea Hope is a model of resilience and a gem of a person
Mindy Livingston has made foster care her life’s mission
Sandra Stokes is a guardian angel to new moms
Lack of sleep doesn’t stop Kate Ginn from helping kids
Amy Jensen has shown her boys what a mother can do