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WomenSafe lauds Suzanne Byers for service to others

SUZANNE BYERS TALKS about her years in service to the community here in Vermont and in New Jersey during a March 27 ceremony honoring her for those contributions. Photo by Jason Duquette-Hoffman

MIDDLEBURY — Longtime community volunteer Suzanne Byers of Cornwall enjoys helping people.
She expects nothing in return, except for perhaps a smile and an occasional “thank you.”
So Byers was understandably overjoyed and flattered by the outpouring of “thank yous” and other kudos she received on March 27 at a special ceremony in her honor, courtesy of WomenSafe. The Middlebury-based nonprofit that assists victims of sexual and domestic violence in Addison County named Byers the 2019 recipient of its “Kimberly Krans Women Who Change the World Award,” in recognition of her tireless work for numerous charitable causes.
“It was a surprise,” Byers said during a brief phone interview.
“It was a huge honor.”
Byers’ philanthropic endeavors are almost too numerous to mention, but here are some of the highlights:
•She’s been supporting and advocating for Addison County children in state custody as a guardian ad litem since 2009. Guardians ad litem are community members who volunteer their time making sure the voices of abused, troubled and/or neglected children get heard in court proceedings.
•Member of the Helping Overcome Poverty’s Effects board of directors from 2008-2014. Two of those years she spent as vice chairperson of HOPE’s development committee.
•Former member of the Porter Medical Center Auxiliary Board from 2002-2008, and has been on the Vermont Families in Transition Advisory Board since 2018.
•Served as a host for Middlebury College international students since 2013.
•Served on the Sheldon Museum Pops Concert Committee from 2002-2007.
•Has long been an active volunteer with Middlebury’ Town Hall Theater. Her contributions have included stints on the THT board, Events Committee and Capital Campaign Committee.
Byers said one volunteering assignment has led to another.
“You find out there are a lot of harsh realities you never would have imagined,” she said.
The work has allowed her to meet a lot of nice people.
WomenSafe presents its Kimberly Krans award annually to a local woman whose outstanding work and achievements have benefited Addison County and its residents directly and indirectly in a variety of ways. The award ceremony is held in March as part of National Women’s History Month.
Prior to coming to Vermont, Suzanne Byers had a lengthy history of working with children in New Jersey, including co-authoring “Barriers to Permanency.” This was a statewide study of elements in the Department of Youth and Families, the judiciary and Child Placement Review Boards that negatively impacted children moving from state custody into permanent homes.
“Suzanne’s engagements and successes are just a fraction of who she is as a person,” reads a WomenSafe press release about the award.
The March 27 gathering included many other volunteers, all there to salute Byers.
“I felt like I was a token for all the people who were there,” she said.
Reporter John Flowers is at [email protected].

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