Developing a sense of community
For Suzanne Carter Herboldshimer, growing up in a small town was everything as far as developing a sense of community.
"My parents were very much involved with the community when I was growing up in Live Oak," Herboldshimer said. "When you live in a small community everybody just chips in and kind of does it. When the need is there, you help out."
Herboldshimer's life is helping children - whether it is her job at Manzanita Elementary School in Gridley, her involvement with the Yuba-Sutter 4-H Guide Dog Puppy Raisers, being a Little League coach or chaperoning for St. Andrew Presbyterian Church youngsters who spend their spring breaks helping to build houses in Mexico.
"When children need help, it is up to us to respond and be a part of the community," she said. Herboldshimer was nominated by her friend Kathy Anderson in the One Nation category of the Appeal-Democrat's Spirit of Freedom 2002 Awards.
Anderson praised Herboldshimer for "her perseverance in the development of the character of all the young people she has influenced through the years."
The 54-year-old Herboldshimer first became involved with 4-H through her two sons and joined with her family in raising nearly 30 puppies for the organization's guide dog program, about half of which have gone on to become working guide dogs.
"We didn't have 4-H when I was growing up in Live Oak," Herboldshimer said. "It was something I would have done. It was just something I wanted to do to keep our boys busy."
But Anderson said Herboldshimer's influence has gone beyond her own family.
"Not every parent is able to have the opportunity to do these kinds of things," Herboldshimer said. "It is difficult because so many families have both parents who are working. If we have that kind of flexibility, we have a responsibility to do what we can."
As a member of St. Andrew, Herboldshimer has accompanied young parishioners to Mexico during spring break for each of the past six years as part of a program to help build homes for impoverished families. She calls the annual trek "a life changing experience" for the participants.
"There is no way they can't be changed some way if they only come to realize how lucky they are to be living the way they are," Herboldshimer said. It all comes down to parents realizing that they are all role models, she said.
"In everything you do, you are being a role model for your children," Herboldshimer said. "But we are also role models and affecting all kids that we come in contact with. It is hard for me to think that any adult is not a role model."
In Anderson's nomination letter, she said Herboldshimer "is relentless in her insistence that (4-H) members do the right thing, the most productive thing, the most responsible thing, even if it isn't always the easiest."
"There is a popular bracelet and bumper sticker that has the initials WWJD, meaning 'What would Jesus do' if he were in this position,'" Anderson wrote. "I've often thought of the acronym WWSD, or 'What would Suzanne do' when faced with a question from a member."
For Herboldshimer, it isn't quite so weighty when it comes to helping children.
"To me it is just fun," she said. "You can't go wrong with kids and dogs."
One Nation: Suzanne Carter Herboldshimer
Category: One Nation
Nominee: Suzanne Carter Herboldshimer
Nominator: Kathy Anderson
Read any newspaper or magazine American culture is rife with the lowering of academic standards and moral standards. Today's role models seem to be all about outrageous behavior, outrageous salaries, extreme sports or celebrity with little merit.
Therefore, it is with great pride that I nominate a member of our community for the "One Nation" award because of her strong moral fiber and backbone while being an outstanding role model for the youth and adults she works with.
As a 4-H leader for about 15 years, Suzanne Carter Herboldshimer of Live Oak has been involved with her two sons, Dustin and Derek, in projects from sheep to sewing to rabbits, but her longest and most rewarding role has been as the leader for the Yuba-Sutter 4-H Guide Dog Puppy Raisers.
As a family, Suzanne and her husband, Jeff. and their two sons have raised almost 30 puppies, about half of which have gone on to become working guide dogs.
The puppy-raising project differs from most 4-H projects in that it is a 16- to 18-month commitment rather than just during the school year. It is also a family-oriented project that requires each member to know the rules and responsibilities that come with raising a puppy for a future blind partner no ball retrieving games, no cute "sitting on the furniture," no stealing of socks. Every behavior has to be considered in the context of how a blind person would have to deal with it.
Along with the daily dog training and the emotional aspects, puppy raising also requires a financial commitment. It takes about $1,000 to raise a puppy, a lot of which is not covered by club fund-raising. As it is a purely volunteer job, there is no compensation for the raiser other than veterinary bills, which are paid by the overseeing organization, Guide Dogs for the Blind Inc. in San Rafael. All the food, toys, expenses for outings, replacement costs for countless chewed up shoes and dug-up lawns are paid for by the raiser's family.
But to me, all this is incidental to the real reason I'm nominating Suzanne for this award her perseverance in the development of the character of all the young people she has influenced through the years. She requires all members to fill out and submit record books for county judging, which serves them well when it's time to fill out college applications.
She is relentless in her insistence that members do the right thing, the most productive thing, the most responsible thing, even if it isn't always the easiest. There is a popular bracelet and bumper sticker that has the letters "WWJD" meaning "What would Jesus do" if he were in this position. I've often thought of the acronym WWSD, or "What would Suzanne do" when faced with a question from a member.
She was also instrumental in getting her sons and the members of other local families successfully enrolled in college with management and leadership skills that they will use for life.