Whether living in Asia or Athens, Susan Parish has always felt the urge to volunteer and help others.
That giving spirit makes her feel right at home as the administrative manager for the Office of Service-Learning, a unit of the Office of the Vice President for Instruction and the Office of the Vice President for Public Service and Outreach.
“I love the opportunities the Office of Service-Learning and students have to give back to the community,” Parish said. “I also love that I get to help with a lot of the different programs in some way.”
Parish, who has lived in five countries as a result of the Army deployments of her husband, Randy, said she always has enjoyed service, whether helping out at her children’s schools or at the family’s church.
Parish lived in South Korea, Panama, Belize, Bolivia as well as California, New Mexico and Texas before settling down in Athens.
“Even during our time overseas I did a lot of helping out,” the Atlanta native said. “I was always volunteering in some way.”
In Bolivia, Parish had her first experience with Habitat for Humanity while building an adobe home on the Altiplano, plateaus where the Andes Mountains are the widest. She and her husband continue to work with Habitat here in Georgia.
In South Korea, Parish taught GED math to enlisted soldiers while her husband was stationed there and tutored university students.
Parish said raising her three children, Abigail, Reeves and Sarah, in foreign countries helped them all enjoy experiencing different cultures and people
“Every place we lived had a really special feel about it, so we just tried to enjoy every moment in each one,” Parish said.
Shortly after moving to the Classic City in 2006, Parish was hired part time in the Office of Service-Learning, which only had one other employee at the time, director Shannon Wilder. As the years passed and the office grew, Parish’s position became full time, and she saw more and more initiatives being taken on.
“The office has grown from focusing on faculty development to tackling different initiatives with students,” she said. “We’ve grown exponentially, and it’s been great to be a part of that growth.”
As administrative manager, Parish does everything from budgets and travel to event planning. She handles all the administrative tasks for the small office.
“No two days are ever alike,” she said, “but it’s great because Shannon is an amazing leader with a great vision for this office and community.”
Parish has helped deliver meals for Campus Kitchen at UGA, a program of the Office of Service-Learning, during the summers. She also has helped with Experience UGA fundraisers and trips.
Outside of work, Parish still dedicates time to others. She and her husband are two of their church’s coordinators for the Interfaith Hospitality Network, which houses and feeds local homeless families.
As Covenant Presbyterian coordinators, the couple helps when the church hosts families every few months. That includes converting Sunday school classrooms into bedrooms as well as preparing meals for the families.
“I like that our church opens its doors to the community,” Parish said. “I especially enjoy helping out in the Interfaith Hospitality Network because homelessness could strike anybody.”