“With all my heart, I believe every person deserves the opportunity for a quality education and the chance to find not just a job but a secure career. SER and its highly talented staff work to make that aspiration a reality for so many Houston residents.”
We are so thankful for our wonderful friend and SER supporter Susan Sarofim. The business leader and TEACH co-founder sat down with us recently and shared her passion for education, what inspires her in her work, and her impression of SER and its impact in the community.
Q. How did you come to co-found an educational non-profit and what interests you about SER?
A. TEACH was born out of a passion for education, which grew directly from my professional experience in the staffing industry. When I entered the field in 1978, it was strictly because I needed a job. But that job quickly became a career in a business that I truly love and continue to count myself lucky to be a part of. In the early years, I discovered that among the immensely rewarding facets of my work was not just matching companies with the right candidates, but also counseling those candidates and watching them evolve and thrive in their own careers. Through this process I saw firsthand how a solid foundation of education and skills was key to finding and keeping a job. This understanding inspired me to volunteer in the New Orleans public school system in the early 1980s. Over the years, my volunteerism turned to advocacy and action, paving the way for the opportunity for me to co-found TEACH, a unique and innovative educational nonprofit in Houston. We work with Houston Independent School System educators to help create safe, calm classrooms through strategies that lower the disciplinary rates and enhance learning opportunities. Therefore, when I heard about SER, I found an instant affinity for this organization and its commitment to training and putting people to work in the Houston community.
Q. You’ve taken a tour of SER’s facilities, what was your impression of SER’s work and the impact it has on the community?
A. When I arrived I saw groups of people patiently waiting to either consult with a counselor or signup for training. Immediately, I was moved by the optimism and hope I saw on the faces of those applicants. After meeting many of the staff members, I was impressed by the longevity in their positions, their passion for what they do and their commitment to SER’s mission. While observing a training class, it was wonderful to witness the students’ enthusiasm and hard work to get the skills that will lead to meaningful employment. In speaking with several of these students, each one had their own compelling story of difficulties and setbacks; however, with SER’s support, they all displayed a commitment and desire to turn around their lives for themselves and their families.
Q. What moved you to make a significant and meaningful gift to SER?
A. With all my heart, I believe every person deserves the opportunity for a quality education and the chance to find not just a job but a secure career. SER and its highly talented staff work to make that aspiration a reality for so many Houston residents. In my many years in the staffing industry, I have found that most people do want to work; they just have not had the opportunity to get the needed training. SER offers a viable, sustainable solution to that problem, giving people skills to enter or reenter the workforce. SER also offers something equally important: hope. The students I met had hope that, yes, they will find work that will enable them to support themselves and their families, creating a cycle of success that can grow from generation to generation. I salute SER and its staff for their tireless work and dedication, and I look forward to watching this important, locally based nonprofit as it continues to change lives in the Texas Gulf Coast region.