Issaquah Valley Elementary School’s ‘guardian angel’ wins state award
July 1, 2014
By Rachel Osgood
Suzie Kuflik receives $500 check from WEA
Suzie Kuflik received statewide recognition May 30 from the Washington Education Association Minority Affairs and Human Rights Committee, for bringing the Angel Program to Issaquah Valley Elementary School.
The award came with a $500 check, which Kuflik donated to the Issaquah Food & Clothing Bank, where she frequently volunteers.
Among her efforts to better the Issaquah community, Kuflik created the Angel Program to pair students in need with “adopted families.”
Those families are given the age, size and gender of their child to provide basic necessities, though many donate additional gifts. The Angel Program’s work has inspired other schools in the Issaquah School District to adapt the program to help more students.
Kuflik’s efforts have improved working relationships with schools and the Issaquah community through providing an outlet for capable families to help care for students in need, said Phyllis Runyon, an Angel volunteer who nominated Kuflik for the award.
“The kids in our community belong to all of us. We all have a responsibility to make sure they are warm and don’t stand out from all the other students,” Runyon said.
Donated items fill a closet at Issaquah Valley Elementary for students who come to school lacking proper attire for the weather.
“They walk into the closet, and their little faces just light up when they emerge wearing a brand new coat, which is something many of them have never owned,” Runyon said.
The program also provides emotional support for students.
“One of the greatest benefits of the program is watching how it increases the self-esteem of kids who have never owned anything new,” Kuflik said. “I receive frequent calls from Angel families expressing how great it is to know someone cares.”
Kuflik’s devotion to the Issaquah community reaches beyond the Angel program. She is a committed volunteer at the Issaquah Food & Clothing Bank, organizing clothing drives in her spare time. She was recently named Volunteer of the Year by the Issaquah Chamber of Commerce at the 35th annual Community Awards. She was recognized at the PTSA’s Golden Acorn Awards in 2009 and 2012 for her outstanding service to the Issaquah schools and the community at large.
“I can’t even begin to describe Suzie,” said Wendee Fowler, Issaquah Valley Elementary secretary and a friend of Kuflik. “She works tirelessly on her own time and money to better the community, and never expects anything in return.”