As we enter October, we recognize the annual change of seasons from summer to fall. The Earth’s seasons are a metaphor for life, just as we experience personal and professional seasons. Ecclesiastes 3:1 reminds us “For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven.” (NLT)
Retirement is a significant change of life. For many retirees, not having a job to go to everyday is both a blessing and a challenge. Many retirees are staying very active during this season of life. They are volunteering to help improve their community, at their churches, and sharing their expertise with non-profit agencies.
Fortunately as Church Girls we know in spite of seasons changing, the GOD we serves never changes. The Bible tells us “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever” -Hebrews 13:8 (NIV)
This week our Church Girls spotlight is on Barbara Sutton. Barbara is the Retired Executive Director of the Alpha Kappa Alpha Educational Advancement Foundation, Inc. During her six years as Executive Director the Foundation distributed over $2.5 million in scholarships and community assistance grants to students and community organizations. She was also instrumental in growing the foundations assets to over $10 million, and increased both brand awareness and the foundation’s donor base.
Barbara received her undergraduate degree from Roosevelt University in Chicago, Illinois where she majored in Accounting. She also has an MBA in Finance from St. Xavier University Chicago, Illinois. Barbara’s career has spanned over 45 years and includes technology, accounting and management experience. She has been employed in private industry, not- for- profit and government.
Barbara has developed an excellent understanding of finance, budgeting, investments, strategic planning, technology and not for profit development. Through the years she utilized theses skills to enhance the organizations with which she worked. Her professionalism was enhanced by a diverse career path working with companies such as BP Amoco in various assignments, The Cook County Clerk’s office as Director of Operations and Budgets and the City of Chicago where she worked as Assistant Comptroller.
Barbara belongs to Solutions Church in Matteson, Illinois. She is a member of the Rainbow Push-Push Excel Scholarship Committee, Development Chairman for the Christopher D. Redding Youth Asthma Foundation, and Vice Chairman of the Exodus Youth Foundation. She has previously served on the Board of Directors of the United Methodist Foundation, San Marcos Youth Ministries and Phoebe’s Place Senior’s Ministry. Barbara is an active member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. Theta Omega Chapter, Chicago, Illinois. She has held various leadership positions at both the chapter and regional levels. She is the proud mother of one son and is a grandmother.
Below is Barbara’s reflection on her first year of retirement. She has devoted her retirement to advocating on behalf of children and youth.
Psalm 127:3 tells us “Children are a gift from the Lord”. (NLT)
“I have been retired exactly one year and must say that the time went by very quickly. I know that we all wonder what retirement life will be like, how will it change our lives and what do you do with all the time previously spent working a job. For me the transition of going from working for a company to working for our youth was an easy one.
The fall of 2015 was filled with planning the spring fundraiser for the Christopher D. Redding Youth Asthma Foundation. My son was a chronic asthmatic while growing up which gave me the opportunity to experience firsthand how asthma can impact a child’s life. When offered the opportunity to work with a foundation that was interested in educating parents and their children on asthma and asthma care I jumped at it. The Foundation also provides college scholarships to students suffering from asthma.
As a member of the Rainbow Push- Push Excel Education Committee, we worked diligently in the first quarter of 2016 to prepare for Education day at the Rainbow Push Conference which took place in June of 2016. At this conference many workshops were provided to parents and educators on education legislation and issues affecting education at all levels. Once again scholarships were also provided to college students.
When that project ended my focus shifted to planning the yearly educational retreat for the Exodus Youth Foundation. During this retreat which took place in Frankfort Illinois, we exposed children ages 5 through 14 who live in the City of Chicago to life away from home in the woods. This experience included workshops on finance/budgeting, voter education, career opportunities and leadership. The young people were given an opportunity to learn from many workshop leaders, participate in praise and worship and yes have some fun!
Our children are our future; they are a gift provided to us by God. I have found joy and purpose in advocating for our children/young adults and will continue to devote my time and energy to this cause; this is my salary and my benefit package.”
It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men”. – Frederick Douglass