Susan Trieschmann is the 2016 recipient of the Jean R. Cleland Social Action Award.
Thank you all for this amazing award. I am really honored and grateful for your faith in me to do the work I do and also to respect what this award stands for.
In researching Jean I learned that her credo was “To those whom much is given, much is expected.” And she is also noted as working to make the northern suburbs a place that is “welcoming to all, regardless of race, religion or income level.”
I do try to do those things – I give the students at our Café all that I was given in my life – love, respect, hugs, opportunities, food and a listening ear. I also try to bring our community together by inviting customers into the café to meet the amazing young men and women in our program that live right across the bridge, but have never felt welcomed into the neighborhoods the cafes are in. My goal is to have Curt’s become “just another coffee shop” which is when I know that our work is making the social change that Jean was working to make.
I love what Jean stood for and I’m so sorry I never met her! But learning about her made me pause and think about what my “credo” is – or could be.
If I had to identify anything I have said often and believe in deeply, for me anyway, it is that physically I can’t do much more than what I’m doing right now – but I can use my voice and talk about the injustices I see and have learned about since opening Curt’s Cafe.
I can speak intelligently and passionately to anyone who will listen about what horrible things are happening to so many of our children, neighbors, friends, brothers and sisters that just don’t look like us, worship like us, or live like us.
And I can talk endlessly about the spirit these friends offer to our communities when we allow them to flourish and what a rich life I have had since welcoming so many of them into my life.
I believe by just talking my truth and the truth of those that have lost – or not yet found – their voice that someone, sometime, somewhere will pick up each piece of the puzzle and continue to make the change we need and want to see.
Today if I had to state what my credo is it would be borrowing from a bumper sticker I just love that says “speak your mind, even if your voice shakes!” It’s scary sometimes, it often takes all the courage I can muster but it has always been worth it!
Thanks again for honoring me with this amazing woman’s legacy award. I will do my best to speak to Jean’s mission, and respect and model her vision in my work and in my life. Peace.