Thursday, May 27, 2010

CNN Hero

Each year CNN recognizes Heroes: individuals who are making a difference in the lives of the people around them. In 2009 Suezette Steinhardt ’87 was acknowledged and featured as one such Hero by CNN for the work she’s been doing with struggling, low-income families in her community, Fairfax County, Virginia.
“It was a blessing to have our work recognized and validated by an outside source,” says Steinhardt. In the CNN feature she adds, “We just put the support under [these families] so they can realize what they can do. Whatever they need to move forward, we’re going to find some way to do it.”
Steinhardt founded Family PASS (Family Preservation and Strengthening Service) in an effort to fill in the gaps she noticed between homelessness, transitional and affordable housing, and to help working families move toward stability and self-sufficiency. It began in 2004 as a means to help a working mom who lived at the transitional housing facility where Steinhardt worked. The woman could not afford to move out of transitional housing into an apartment, despite the fact that she had a full-time job. In the CNN interview Steinhardt recalls, “I did her budget [and] realized that at a low rent, working full-time . . . if she just paid her bills, not buying food, not buying clothing, she was already [in] a $300 to $400 deficit each month.”
Together with her husband, Steinhardt worked with the landlord to get a lease for the woman, and using their own money subsidized the portion of her rent that exceeded 31 percent of her income. That’s when community support poured in and Family PASS took off, originating out of the Steinhardt’s basement but now working out of an office with a small, part-time staff.

Steinhardt is thankful for her time at Gordon as a psychology major and how it developed the work she now does. In 1987 she graduated as a member of Phi Alpha Chi, an academic honor dedicated to the encouragement and recognition of scholarly research, clear thinking and creativity by Christians in every discipline. “My time at Gordon made a significant impact on my life and my worldview,” said Steinhardt. “Being a member of Phi Alpha Chi prodded me into actions that are outside of my comfort zone, such as establishing Family PASS.”

To read the complete CNN Heroes feature on Steinhardt’s work, visit

1 comment:

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People like these are not much in the whole world. This kind of appreciation by the CNN will promote people to do tasks like this.