Sue Baron has spent a lifetime serving others. First being put to work in a kitchen at the age of 14, the former waitress says a single crayon left behind on a restaurant table inspired her current volunteerism, helping to improve the future for homeless children.
Launching Golden Drive Homeless Kids in 2013, the 53-year-old West Fargo, North Dakota resident says she lacked awareness about homelessness in her own community, however recognized an opportunity to help others in need. Through donations including food, clothes, baby supplies, school supplies, hygiene items and other basic necessities, Sue has given back to thousands of children struggling due to homelessness.
What inspires you to volunteer?
I’d volunteered before, but this was different. I was just one woman with one crayon and an idea. I just kept believing and believing in this idea of connecting people in our community, connecting them to resources and to shelters. I’ve worked in the industry my whole life, I’ve met thousands of people, and I believe everything has worked its way to this.
Tell me more about how a crayon inspired your service.
At my waitressing job, we’d provide three coloring crayons to each table, and whether they were touched or not, the crayons were thrown away at the end of the meal. One day I picked up a crayon from the table and put it in my apron. I thought that I’d bring the crayon to a local shelter along with a coloring book for a child. The next 30 days, I went door to door, business to business, soliciting donations for children in shelters, which eventually led me to launching Golden Drive Homeless Kids in 2013.
Describe your role with Golden Drive Homeless Kids.
As founder, I am always creating something or doing something to contribute to the organization after I am done with my day job. We rely on donations, so I plan events and reach out to local businesses and supporters for assistance.
Share one personal story with me from your volunteerism.
There are so many beautiful stories. We once took a lot of young hockey players to the food pantry, and they were so, so excited to help. It was beautiful to bestow that act service on children, it was just gold.
Speaking of gold, what does the name, Golden Drive Homeless Kid, come from?
My love for the show, ‘The Golden Girls’ (laughs). People will see me around town and yell to me, ‘Stay golden, Sue!’
What’s one way you hope to inspire others in your service?
Don’t ever chase the dollar or material things. You’ll never know happiness.
What does it mean to know that you are making an impact on the homeless population?
It is very overwhelming. When I sit back and reflect, it brings me to tears. The road is always rocky in life. You’ve got to be able to turn things around and make it positive. My goal has always been to connect people, and that is what we are doing.
What have you learned through your experiences as a volunteer?
When I started the organization, I didn’t have extra money, and I didn’t have any education about homelessness in our community, but I knew that if we could raise awareness about children in need, I could help homeless kids. These children are our future and truly our greatest assets.
In one word, describe what volunteering means to you.
Happiness. And always believing in yourself.
How can readers help?
Do you want to make a difference in your community like Sue Baron? Find local volunteer opportunities.