Posted: Friday, March 23, 2018 – 12:36 PM
By John L. Seitz
“The latest shipment has arrived,” says Suzan Hughes while opening a large box filled with hundreds of books. With the help of her assistant, they begin imprinting each book with a blue stamp that reads: “Donated by The Suzan Hughes Education Foundation (S.H.E).”
“We stamped more than 300 books last night while watching some of the Academy screeners” says Hughes. “It’s the only time we had to do it.” When I bring up the “notion” about her latest foundation founded last year, Suzan is quick to correct me: “I have been doing this for a long time, a very, very long time as a matter of fact.”
Indeed she has. Hughes is no stranger to the charity world when it comes to education and children. Her philanthropic work began when she co-founded the Herbalife Family Foundation, which is now in more than 60 countries and counting, and has helped millions of people.
She served as the foundation’s president for five years earning respect and becoming a recognized advocate for issues affecting children and women’s welfare around the world. “We were ahead of our time, but I am certainly glad permanent change has been brought about thanks to the women’s movement gripping the country.”
And speaking of “ahead of her time,“ she was indeed when it came to donations and raising money. It was Suzan, who donated $250,,000 to D.A.R.E back in 1995 after receiving the Future of America Award presented by the D.A.R.E American Foundation. “At the time I wanted to give even more, but it was large sum of funds nevertheless.”
Her new S.H.E Foundation will focus on scholarships through other partners, grants and donations aiming to promote the core of what she stands for–education.
Hughes started to visit classrooms back in 1994 with D.A.R.E. and then again in 1999, when she teamed up with former LAPD officer Jim Starr, known as “the singing cop” and the Gem Star Foundation for children. While serving as a chairperson for that organization, she played “Sergeant Sue” to convey her message more effectively. “I would literally put on a police officer’s uniform and march in auditoriums full of fifth graders and younger. It seemed to be a clever way to get everyone’s attention with such a large group,” she recalls.
She would go on to teach heath, safety and social responsibility to those fifth graders, as well as topics covering areas such as bullying, seatbelt safety and nutrition. “I wish someone did that for me when I was a little girl, I would have listened” she adds.
“Sergeant Sue was particularly popular with little girls, giving them hope and life lessons, and I still have the uniform in my closet…she is not finished yet,” jokes Hughes. “It was so rewarding to hear them screaming out questions at me ‘Sergeant Sue, Sergeant Sue’—I was showing them what a good a police officer can be all the while conveying my message”
Hughes has also served as a Community Circle leader for the Maple Counseling Center in Beverly Hills for seven years. She sat on the board and taught weekly classes covering a broad range of subjects such as bullying and resolving personal issues in a safe confidential environment. “It was very, very fulfilling and I often wonder how my little students are facing todays challenges–hopefully all are or will be enrolled in colleges.
“There is so much to be done, so much! Give a little, get a lot.” Judging from her past efforts, it would seem her S.H.E. Foundation has a bright future ahead of it.