“I am from the Kennedy generation," said Susan Cole. "Where you ‘ask what you can do for your country,’ where you had to give back.”
And give back she has. After graduating from UCLA, where she studied political science and history, Susan headed to Colombia as a volunteer with the Peace Corps. There, she helped build a school and organized the local community.
After her two years of service, Susan ventured to New York City, attending graduate school at the Columbia School of Social Work.
“I fell in love with New York,” said Susan. “And when I found Jones Beach, I knew I never had to go anywhere again.”
Susan went on to a career at Settlement Housing Fund, a Project FIND peer organization that "creates and sustains high quality affordable housing and programs." Susan spent 36 years with Settlement Housing Fund, 27 as its associate director, and through her work, became familiar with Project FIND.
“I loved the Coffeehouse program,” said Susan about her first impression of Project FIND. “Coffeehouse got people out of Port Authority, provided them a meal and shelter, and got them access to necessary supports such as housing placement assistance.”
Over the course of her long relationship with Project FIND, Susan worked alongside each of its four executive directors and saw the organization through its biggest milestones. She went on to join its board of directors, serving as its Chair for almost a decade.
“New York City in the 1970s was a rough time,” said Susan about her early years with Project FIND. “An important question we had to answer at that time was ‘how do you make people stay in their neighborhoods?’”
Quality affordable housing that was sustainable in a changing city was an answer. Susan has long believed in the benefits of integration, and she was pleased to find a kindred belief among Project FIND’s leaders.
“Our housing works because it has a mix of incomes,” said Susan. “And we continue to serve our residents and the larger community without being exclusive about who can be a tenant.”
There is much that Susan has to be proud of in her work with Project FIND, but she is most pleased to have helped the organization lay the foundation that enabled it to reach its 50th year.
“We solidified the organization,” said Susan. “We expanded programs, strengthened our relationship with the Department for the Aging, and worked to make our housing better for our tenants.”
And for that, Project FIND will be forever indebted to Susan Cole.
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