Named the 2014 Merilee Turner Volunteer of the Year, Susan Sweeney Kreuzmann is a fixture around ProKids. She helps with training, recognition events and anything else that ProKids needs. This year, she is even chairing the annual holiday shop, where we will distribute gifts to the more than 500 children ProKids serves. But at the heart of Susan’s passion for ProKids is her work as a CASA volunteer.
In her two years as a CASA volunteer, Susan has had four cases involving five children. But it’s more than numbers for Susan. For her, it’s about Annie.
Annie was in foster care when Susan met her. Annie had been abused by her mother, who was addicted to drugs. And at 14, Annie was pregnant.
Susan, with the support of JFS and the court, helped Annie let her mother know that she was not going to come back home. She would move into foster care.
Like all ProKids CASA volunteers, Susan will be a constant for Annie as she continues to work to become a better mother, improve her family relationships and become an independent adult.
Susan says that her ongoing support of Annie revolves around three central messages: you have to take care of your own life; you need to take care of your child; and you are a smart girl who can do well in school.
Annie, who is now 16, has taken that to heart, Susan says. She has her eyes on college. She takes good care of her daughter. And Susan assures her that ProKids wants to help Annie to be successful.
“She could really be one of those kids who breaks the cycle,” Susan says. “I hope she can see that this part of her life could be the worst of her life. From here it can be better.
Susan, a 1972 graduate of Ursuline Academy, is a former teacher and former owner of Century House, a business in Glendale. She is the mother of one adult son, a psychiatric nurse at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center.
We share stories of our children so that our community can understand why ProKids depends on a mobilized community. We change the names of the children, and use stock photos out of respect for their dignity and privacy. The stories themselves, however, are true.