Over 23 years ago, I had the pleasure and excitement of hiring my first case manager for what was then Community Options, Incorporated. I was working out of my home and did not have an office at the time, so I scheduled a time and date to meet a woman by the name of Susie who came highly recommended by an old colleague of mine. Out of all places to meet, we met at Denny’s off of Sand Canyon. Not a fave of ours, but convenient.     

Boy, was this woman enthusiastic and excited about the idea to do something that was new and different for its day, as COIS was the first Family Home Agency to lay ground in California and was just taking off. And, I knew she was a go when we both reached for the salt shaker a dozen times during breakfast. A match for collaborative progress!   

So yes, it was employee/employer love at first sight for us. I knew she would keep me on my toes and was dedicated in doing good, righteous work. Like wildfire, she was rearing to meet families and take on her role as a case manager. She was eager to learn and determined to know and understand each of the people she would come in contact with and advocate for. She was hands and jumped in with her own style and approach to provide genuine quality care. 

Susie’s smile, her walk, that beautiful Dutch accent, her allure/beauty, her playfulness, her dedication, her commitment, her love for her family, her love for work, will remain an influence and with everlasting unforgettable moments. Susie frequently made us laugh. We can never ever listen to a Harry Belafonte song again without thinking about her. And during solemn moments, she would bring tears to our eyes with heartfelt, shared stories. She would “whip us in to shape” one minute with no mercy, and the very next moment she comforted our hearts. Susie has touched so many people over the years and will continue to have an influence on many a friend and family of COIS. We hold her in high regard.      

Susie Van Raalten was a remarkable and impressive woman.  Her stories, sense of humor, compassion, life lessons, and glimpses into her life were remarkable. The places she had been and the people she had encountered were intriguing and kept us on the edge of our seats many a day to hear more. She will forever remain in our hearts. Susie has been a “rock” and pillar, helping to define the culture of COIS and our dedication in service. 

On Wednesday, September 22nd, we gained an angel who is now watching over us. There are a few of us that were blessed with the opportunity to say goodbye. Our gratitude to Suz’s family for that. I picture her up above with a waving finger reminding us to document our ID notes just right, watching over our children, and instead of conducting monthly home visits, she is fully at rest and in the comfort of “home” now. She is undoubtedly rejoicing as she told us she would.  

I am blessed and privileged to have known Susie and beautiful family. I have had the privilege of watching her granddaughter grow up from day one, becoming a beautiful young woman with some of Susie’s sass, strength, and determination in providing loving care to her grandmother and young child. It’s beautiful sight to see.

 “When someone you love becomes a memory, the memory becomes a treasure.” Please join me taking a moment to honor and memorialize our beloved Susie. Such a precious treasure.