Helping people overcome barriers to reach their goals is what Susan Sorensen, a CLBC facilitator from Surrey, B.C., always wanted to do. “The most enjoyable part of the job is developing meaningful relationships with individuals and families and trying to assist them to get the help they need,” says Susan. “But this is not done alone; it is done in partnership with families, my colleagues, government organizations and community partners. When they say ‘it takes a village’, it really does.”
Susan has been part of the CLBC team for more than 10 years. Prior to that, Susan worked in group homes as an educational assistant throughout the Lower Mainland. While studying at university, she started working in a transition house for battered women and then in a homeless shelter that was also a treatment facility for women with drug and alcohol problems. “I don’t know if I actively chose this particular line of work per se but I was interested in working in a field where I could help people in some capacity,” says Susan.
Making strong connections with families is a critical aspect of Susan’s work. “I love working with families,” says Susan. “They are often appreciative of the support and to have someone listen to them. It has made me aware of how difficult some families’ lives are and it has given me a better understanding of some of the difficulties many families deal with in areas that I take for granted in my own life.”
Aileene Bustos, sister of an individual supported by CLBC, says, “my family and I have had the privilege to work with Susan for many years, and if I could only choose one word to describe Susan, that word would be ‘phenomenal’. No matter what question we ask her, Susan always takes the time to answer us and is patient, kind, and respectful. As a family member, these qualities are important to me. Her genuineness, compassion, and honesty are why Susan is the person whom my family and I turn to and rely upon.”
“She has become a part of our family and we have the deepest respect and sincerest gratitude for her.” – Aileene Bustos
In addition to working closely with families, Susan spoke about the significance of working with community partners like the Ministry of Children and Family Development, Development Disabilities Mental Health Services and service providers when planning for the individuals we support. “We succeed because of our collaboration, our partnership and our shared goal; to make sure the people we are providing services to are able to live their life to the fullest,” said Susan.
“You know that feeling you get when you meet someone and you know that they will move mountains for things they care about?” says Vancouver General Hospital Social Worker, Jessie Lane. “Well that was my experience in working with Susan. She worked hard to get to get our mutual client home and supported. Professionals like Susan help make my work, good work and I’m grateful.”
A CLBC service provider, the Burnaby Association for Community Inclusion (BACI), first came to know Susan in the midst of very difficult circumstances. “Susan helped us get to know a young woman and her grandpa who found themselves in a pretty desperate situation,” said Richard Faucher, Executive Director of BACI. “Through Susan’s patient respectful approach she gained and maintained their trust. It was in fact their trust of Susan and her steadfast commitment to them that opened the door for BACI to begin building a relationship and support network around them. We all appreciated Susan’s tenacity and commitment to this family.”
“Susan demonstrates what being in a relationship with others is really all about. She wants people to be successful and sticks with them through the bad times and the good.” – Richard Faucher.
While it’s important to create strong and positive relationships with those outside of CLBC, Susan believes that the support of the people she works with in her local CLBC office in Surrey is crucial. “We work as a team,” she says, “and we genuinely want to do better everyday and make each success story come true.”