Supporting Human Care Agencies in San Diego Since 1954.
By Nichole Naoum
As the President of San Diego-based nonprofit Country Friends, Suzanne Newman has hit several milestones during her philanthropy journey. In fact, during her 20-year tenure with the organization, she has served as an officer, board member, co-chair of the Art of Fashion and now President! In this issue, Suzanne shares details about her current role, key achievements, and practicing self-compassion.
What is the history behind The Country Friends?
The Country Friends was established by a group of driven, forward-thinking women in 1954, all of whom collectively banded together and asked the question, “What can we do to help our community?” This was significant since women did not have much of a presence in the workforce yet.
My mother was the one who managed the very first consignment shop in Rancho Santa Fe. She is also singlehandedly responsible for the original remodel, which is why it looks the way it does today.
These days, we are always looking for new ways to raise money for the organizations we support across San Diego County and events have proven to be most effective. Our events are structured mainly around women’s fashion and we host three major ones per year – a Spring Luncheon to honor our volunteers, a Holiday Tea so attendees can meet and mingle with vendors, and the Art of Fashion, which is our signature fundraiser.
Can you describe your role there?
I am the face of The Country Friends, as well as the primary spokesperson. As with any organization, there needs to be someone who is readily available and accountable. My primary role as President is to work with our board members and volunteers to create committees and get people involved with local human care agencies. It is a fairly fine-tuned machine when it comes to how we do what we do. But since it is unlikely that we will be able to host any events this year, our executive committee is currently brainstorming more creative ways to spread the word.
Are there any milestones The Country Friends has reached recently that you are proud of?
There is a real sense of community with The Country Friends. We have had supporters for over 20 years who have now become like family. This year, I am proud to say we sponsored 59 different charities, including Miracle Babies, the Brain Injury Foundation, the Southern Sudanese Community Center of San Diego, the National Foundation for Autism and Wounded Warriors. Our goal is to help fund foundations that do not have a robust marketing department they can lean on to get their message out there. At the end of the day, I am grateful because our volunteers are offering something incredibly valuable – their time.
How do you practice self-compassion?
I have gotten pretty good at striking a balance between self-compassion and compassion for others. I spent many years in the corporate world, and now, I work mostly with volunteers. I was even a volunteer physician at The Country Friends for a time. Fortunately, at home, I am surrounded by three cats and a dog, and I touch base with friends routinely. I was also raised to understand that you need to take care of yourself because if you do not, you will be spinning so fast that you will be ineffective. I have always been one to stop, take a breath, and think about my next move.