When you hear that Susan Pray is the “administrative assistant” at Coeur d’Alene’s Center for Women and Children, you may get the wrong idea. Sure, she writes emails, answers phones, keeps paperwork organized – but her work is 100% ministry. She came to UGM to volunteer, but God took her heart for behind-the-scenes service and placed her at the hub of everything that goes on at the Center.
Lynn: Tell me about your background, where you grew up, etc.
Susan: I actually grew up in Spokane. My parents, my family still lives here. I'm the fourth of six children. Went to Gonzaga Prep and then down to WSU. Got married -- my husband Tom and I lived in Kirkland for four years and then moved down to California and were there for 23 years, and then came back up here.
It's nice to be back among our family. We have two children: Casey, who's 26 and in the Army in Germany right now -- he has a beautiful daughter Cameron, who will be 6. We have a daughter, Maggie, and she just gave birth to a beautiful baby boy named Joel. He's 11 weeks old now. Maggie's local, so we're being really blessed having the opportunity to be a part of that.
We've owned our own business since 1996. We're a low-voltage subcontractor. We install alarm systems and offer security monitoring. With owning our own business, I had the flexibility to volunteer. So when we moved back up to the Northwest, I was looking for a place to volunteer. It was right when the Center was going to open, there was a flier announcing the need for volunteers, so I just responded to that little flier that came in my mailbox and was also posted at our church. I went through the volunteer orientation process and started out in admin at the Center as a volunteer.
I was not looking for a job. I didn't need a job. The gal I was reporting to had her first baby, so the idea was I would just cover for her while she was on maternity leave. She just ended up wanting to be home with baby, and that's how I came to be running the admin.
Lynn: What do you really like about what you do?
Susan: Making an impact in people's lives. Because I am in admin, my interactions with the ladies are a lot different than with the counselors or with the teachers. But my office has been known to have chocolate in it. So I have a couple gals that I interact with who know where to come when they need a little sweet and a little encouragement and just to chat. It's been neat developing relationships that I normally wouldn't get to have.
So I'm really blessed because JoAnn, the director, allows me to participate in community. I'm there when we do chapel and self-evals, and I also get to assist in one of the program classes, which allows me to develop a relationship to a certain degree with the gals too. It's called "Untying the Knots of the Heart." It's a phase 1 class, so we look a lot at family of origin, how society impacts us, how family impacts us, and then putting truth to all of that.
Lynn: What would you say is challenging about your position?
Susan: The job is challenging because I'm kind of the go-to person. I get a lot of questions and needs -- I need this, I need that, whatever it is -- so trying to meet everyone's needs and doing it well. Not just getting it off my plate, but doing it well. Sometimes, it can be crazy.
Lynn: You have to be kind of a jack of all trades, probably.
Susan: Very much. And I think the Lord's gifted me in that, so I can handle a lot of things coming at me. But it can be challenging in different seasons. Especially the holidays are nutty. And whenever we come up to phase completions and commencements. You have your regular jobs, and then you have your extra events. The challenge would be to handle all that gracefully.
Lynn: What would you say your typical day of work looks like?
Susan: A typical day would just be having the office open by 8:30, have the coffee going, be ready to answer the phone calls, kind of debrief with whoever is volunteering that day, because I don't sit actually at the front desk, my volunteers do. So just bringing the volunteer up to speed, who we're expecting, what the schedule looks like for the day. And then catching up on emails, going to community meeting. There's a pretty good flow.
Lynn: What might people be surprised to find out that you do in your work?
Susan: The first thing that pops off the top of my head is I do a lot of IT troubleshooting for the staff and people that come in and need help getting connected to the internet or just random things.
Lynn: Do you have a recent interaction with a resident or something that made you really glad you work here?
Susan: That happens so often. Yesterday we were in a program meeting and one of our residents came in all excited to be prayed for because she had been accepted into a jail ministry. It was going to be her first afternoon, and she was really excited. Having the honor of praying for her and the ministry she was embarking on, using her story to share with girls -- I think she was actually going to be serving with juvenile delinquents, sharing her testimony with them.
Even in the lunch line, one of the girls was depressed and having a rough day. Just asking her if I could hug her and pray with her -- those opportunities, they come up a lot. I guess I consider those special.
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