Susan Allison loves reading to children. Her passion for helping those younger than herself goes all the way back to own childhood, when she helped her grandmother in the church nursery. Susan grew up in Lawrenceville, Illinois, where her parents first ran a clothing store and later managed an apartment building. Her first work experience included helping her father with his property management duties.
Susan grew up surrounded by family. Her grandfather was a minister and her grandmother ran the church nursery and daycare. When she needed some help, Susan (then a child herself) offered to come take care of and play with the little ones. She loved it! Helping in the nursery became a regular part of her weekly routine.
As Susan grew up, she continued to enjoy spending time with children. She also continued to be grateful for her family’s support. Susan married and had a child of her own, but her marriage didn’t work out. Her parents helped make sure that she and her son were secure and that her son had a solid start in life.
Susan realized during her son John’s childhood that one of her favorite ways to spend time with kids was to read to and with them. She enjoyed it because, in addition to being a fun activity and a way to spend time with her son, she felt she was teaching when she read to him. She’s carried her warm feelings from this experience with her own child over to her work with other children. “I feel like I’m doing good and helping children learn about things when I read to them,” she told us during her Passions Project interview.
In spite of the pleasure she gets from reading to children and helping them learn, Susan never considered teaching as a career. “I don’t have the patience,” she says. Instead, she’s found other ways to continue incorporating work with children into her life, even now that her own son is grown. These days, she reads to groups of children who visit the Immanuel Skilled Care Center. Sometimes, when the weather is nice and a ride is available, she goes to read to kids at the nearby daycare.
Now that she’s older, Susan enjoys different aspects of her interactions with children. She’s in a wheelchair, and she’s learned that kids are curious about it. They really enjoy the chance to wheel her around, and Susan likes this, too. Reading to kids and interacting with them continues to give Susan a sense of purpose, and she appreciates the way children tend to take people just as they are.
Susan discovered her passion for caring for kids early in her life when she helped her grandmother in the church nursery. Now, she’s one of the “grandmas and grandpas” the kids from the daycare come to visit. She truly found her lifelong passion!