Susan priest - volunteer in red coat

MVV September 2023 – Susan Priest

Born in Orange, New Jersey, Susan Priest was the first of three children born to an academic father and registered nurse mother.  When she was 15 years of age, her father took a sabbatical year for research, and the family spent 6 months in England and then traveled by car through Western Europe. Susan attended an all-girls school and learned to tie a tie as part of their “proper dress code”. During her early school years, her mother took night classes and turned her RN into a bachelor’s degree. Susan remembers attending her own mother’s college graduation and said her family was so proud of the hard work and diligence her mom put into that achievement.

Susan attended Chatham University and majored in history (with early admission!) and towards the end of college, she decided to focus on library science. She applied to Rutgers University for a Master of Library Science degree and was accepted. After obtaining her master’s degree, she accepted her first and only job with Citizen’s Library in Washington, PA, moving from reference librarian to assistant director to director over the years. She retired as director of the library in 2006.

Susan began volunteering in April 2006 due in part of the care the hospital staff gave her mother throughout the years. She said the staff was very kind and patient with her mother and it made a tremendous impact on them both. Since that time, she’s amassed over 7,400 hours of service helping patients, visitors, and staff in the gift shop.

As you may imagine, being a former librarian, she loves to read. Susan also enjoys family genealogy. A few family names include Loring, Bulkeley, Benson, Bigelow, Pratt, and Priest. She can trace her heritage back to 12 patriots who served in the Revolutionary War.  She can also trace her family back to the Mayflower.

Active at Trinity Anglican Church, she has served on the vestry (the church’s governing board) including as both senior and junior warden and oversees coordinating all the volunteers who serve each Sunday. She prepares the bulletins and announcements for service each week. Susan participates in several groups at church that serve both her church family and the community. She’s been a member of the Washington Rotary Club (past president) since 1998 and has received several awards for her service.

In the past, Susan has participated in the Washington Festival Chorale and says music is a big part of her life. The most beautiful music includes the human voice, either a cappella or an orchestral accompaniment. A favorite is Beethoven ninth, with the Ode to Joy being sung.

An accomplished traveler, Susan has been to London, Paris, Brussels, Amsterdam, Prague, Rome, Istanbul, Florence, Provence, Barcelona, and Vienna.  Her favorite place to travel is London because the city provides a combination of things she likes such as art and history, and she can have wonderful conversations with both locals and travelers.

Susan is currently undergoing chemotherapy treatments and continues to come in twice a week to volunteer. She does this because she still has a mission to serve and be with people. Susan said, “You think you may have it bad until you talk with someone else and realize, ‘eh…it’s not so bad”.  She said the hospital is one of her three families and wants to continue to help for years to come.

Please congratulate Susan Priest for being September’s Most Valuable Volunteer!