Monarch community specialist celebrates 30 years of supporting others

Published 11:25 am Tuesday, July 19, 2022

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Friend. Travel companion. The one with the answers.

If you ask people for a description of Monarch Community Specialist Susan Eudy, these are just a few phrases you might hear.

At the heart of it all, Susan is a caregiver.

This year she celebrates 30 years of caring for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD). Her rapport and bond with the people and families she supports is evident.
As a community specialist under Monarch’s Long-Term Services and Supports, Susan provides personal assistance and community care. That can mean a wide variety of tasks that she coordinates for individuals with I/DD such as creating short- and long-term goals, connecting with community resources, accompanying people supported while volunteering or enjoying activities such plays and short trips.

A 30-Year Career of Caring

After pursuing college level studies in secretarial science, she began working at a restaurant and a sewing mill. She longed to follow another path.

Susan believes that she made the choice in 1992 to serve people with I/DD when she started working at Monarch’s Stanly Industrial Services (SIS) in Albemarle. However, her family members are convinced that a passion for caring started many years earlier and refer to it as Susan’s “calling.”

As a young girl around the age of 8, Susan would accompany her grandmother to visit her sister, who at the time lived in a facility for people with I/DD. Susan’s great aunt, Blanche, would speak to only her and no one else. The pair would chat easily as Susan played with her dolls during the visit.

“I always wanted to be part of making a difference in someone’s life,” she recalls.
Susan’s caring demeanor is evident seeing her in action with Dotty, 51, and Wendy, 53, Pipkin of Kannapolis, two of the nine people she currently assists as a community specialist in Cabarrus and Stanly counties. She affectionately refers to the sisters as “The Girls” because she feels as if she has grown up with them, side by side, since 1997.

Being a community specialist, you have to be flexible in a variety of ways, Susan says.

“Every day is different. It keeps me going and keeps me busy. It makes you feel great at the end of the day that you helped someone,” she says of the benefit she reaps from her job.

The people she supports make her days brighter even when heading to her job with something difficult weighing on her mind: “It is so rewarding. You can be having an emotional day and seeing them turns your day around. You focus on what their needs are.”

Susan has known loss throughout her life.

At 7 weeks old, her father, at the age of 23, was killed while serving in the Vietnam War.

In 2018, she lost a person supported to cancer who she knew for 26 years.

In 2019, a dear co-worker, Mindy Fowler, a fellow community specialist at Monarch, passed away.
Susan, grieving from the loss of a close teammate and friend, volunteered to take over the individuals she supported.

Rewards and Challenges to Caring for Others

While providing direct care can be challenging, Susan is careful to make sure she maintains professional boundaries and sets aside time for herself.

She takes walks, meditates and enjoys time with the family dog, Snickers, as well as her daughter, son and three grandchildren.

However, it seems the caring never stops. She makes sure her 85-year-old, mom, Blondell, has what she needs and checks up on an aunt who receives care in a facility following a stroke.

Susan’s legacy of caring continues even after a person supported has passed away. Their family members will often touch base to make sure she is doing well and vice versa.

Cliff and Betty Pipkin, Wendy and Dotty’s parents, feel as if Susan is part of their family.

“It’s like having a best friend, but it is even better because she is a friend who cares for my girls, Dotty and Wendy. She handles so many things that I can’t do anymore,” Betty shares, looking at Susan with appreciation. “She is always so kind.”

Susan is grateful she followed her calling. Through smiles, laughter, good times and even tears, her career as a community specialist has given her much in return.

“So many have made a difference in my life, I am glad that I am able to make a difference in theirs,” she says.

“What I’ve been taught working with Monarch is everyone has a dream and those dreams can be reached, it could be something as simple as going on a hunting trip as one of the people supported just did or obtaining a home,” Susan added. “Don’t give up. If you can’t do something the first time, keep trying until it’s accomplished.”