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state mother of the year
2018 MOTY (41)

Suzanne Farris – 2018 Delaware Mother of the Year

March 20, 2018


Meet Suzanne Farris the 2018 Delaware Mother of the Year

Suzanne Farris has called Delaware home for most of her life. Graduating from Salisbury University in 2004, Suzanne taught middle school before embarking on a career in the non-profit world. In 2007, Suzanne was elected to the Seaford Board of Education where she served a five-year term that included two years as vice-president and two years as Board President. In 2012, Suzanne began a career with the American Red Cross where she currently serves as a Senior Volunteer Specialist for the Greater Chesapeake Region. Suzanne and her husband David are raising their four children in their Bridgeville, Delaware home and Suzanne spends the majority of her non-working hours helping her children to manage their volunteer service organizations – GAVE, GearUp, HeartArt and Yes I Do! Suzanne also serves as a Sunday School Teacher and works alongside her husband to promote healthy marriage and family relationships.

Suzanne’s Thoughts on Parenting

Having a daughter at 19 was not in my life plan. Being a young mom brings a lot of judgment to your life. Early on I knew that I was not going to let myself or my daughter become a statistic. I broke out of the abusive relationship I was in and began working to be the strong woman I hoped to raise. I believe in a life lived by example. In our house, that example has been to challenge the things that need challenging, change the things that need changing and take personal ownership of our decisions and our actions.

My goal became to raise strong children. I fiercely believe that it is not our job to shield our children FROM the world, but that instead, it is up to a mother to prepare her child FOR the world. Three of my children have medical conditions that impact their daily lives and by extension, our home and community. I never allowed my children to make their diagnoses an excuse for holding back on life but instead challenge them daily to make that a reason to live better. I never told my children what they wouldn’t be able to do, instead, I let them freely explore their world and find the ways that their gifts allowed them to excel. Parenting is not a competitive sport with a specific measure of success, but instead, it is a challenge to bring the brightest shine to each precious gem in your care.

Suzanne’s Service in the Community

Serving as School Board President for two years, Suzanne was able to make an impact because she was a voice for those whose voice wasn’t always heard. She formed a countywide coalition to fight disparities in access to education, and helped  build awareness of the impact that school meals have on students with insecure access to food. It was truly one of the most rewarding times in her life.

When her daughter Kayleigh was 12, she helped her create GAVE – Girls Aspiring, Volunteering and Empowering, an organization to promote community service to young women. Now with over 200 members in 11 states and under her daughter’s leadership, these young women have served more than 20,000 hours in their communities.

Working with GAVE, Suzanne became known as “The Momager” because of her administrative support role. Volunteering for an organization run by her daughter has been an amazing experience and helped us stay close as she has transitioned to college.

After working with GAVE, her other three children have all taken on their own causes and started forming their own organizations. Her son formed a group called GearUp that promotes access to bicycles for children. Currently operating in 14 states, GearUp’s current initiatives includes the promotion of STEM education through cycling and getting bikes to foster children. Her middle daughter has created and organized over 4,000 greeting cards to be distributed to veterans, active duty service members, first responders and nursing home residents and is actively pursuing partnerships to increase those numbers through her organization HeartArt. Her youngest daughter, at the age of 8, is working to promote youth sports to girls through a group she calls “Yes I do!” Suzanne serves as the administrative backup and program consultant for each of these programs.

Working side by side with her children to view the world through their eyes and help them find and become solutions to the problems they see has to be the most rewarding experience a mother can have. Suzanne states, “We all want to leave a legacy; I know that I am raising mine.”

What others are saying about Suzanne

Suzanne has personal qualities that make her well-suited for this award. She’s naturally fallen into the role of “point person” that many of us go to with questions. She’s not afraid to take risks and often suggests new directions to explore. Suzanne was instrumental in introducing our educational platform for training, for instance, a direction that has proven to be very fruitful. She’s committed to quality, growth, and progress, and she inspires her team members to strive for the same. In short, Suzanne is a person with vision. Shawn Felder, DCS Volunteer Partner
American Red Cross

While every mother is special, Suzanne Farris is just extraordinary in the way she cares for her family and others. To me, a good mother will put the needs of others in front of her own. The way Suzanne exemplifies this makes her an outstanding Mother… Early on as a parent, she had to learn quickly to be an advocate for her children. Her oldest two were in an abusive situation with their biological father and she quickly took the necessary legal steps to put an end to that and remove them from that situation.  Soon after, she discovered her son had an Autism Spectrum disorder and spent countless hours getting him the therapy he needed to learn the proper coping skills. She spent countless hours soothing him just so he could function. Now, as a high school student, you would never know he’s on the Spectrum. David G. Farris, Suzanne’s husband. 

Suzanne in the News!

Sussex Post-

Suzanne Farris named Delaware Mother of the Year