Susan Noyes: Helping Hands in Action

Red Cross Board Member Susan Noyes

It was “the coldest night of the year in November in Chicago,” American Red Cross board member, Susan Noyes explained, when she first witnessed the organization in operation. She had “signed up to respond to a fire… [and noticed] how well trained and professional the volunteers were and… how they interacted with the police, and the fire… and the families.” After Susan’s experience that night, she decided she wanted to do more, and so she joined the Tiffany Circle, a group of women leaders who contribute $10,000 or more per year to the Red Cross, as well as pitch in on various Red Cross missions. She also went on to become a Red Cross board member and co-chair of the Red Cross Heroes Breakfast, an annual event that spotlights local heroes for their service to the community. Susan said “the more I learned about the Red Cross, the more I wanted to help.”

Susan gives the credit for her initial interest in the Red Cross to the organization’s former CEO and her close friend, Fran Edwardson. It was Fran who helped Susan discover the details of her connection to the Red Cross. In conversation, Susan mentioned that her husband’s family had some sort of tie to the organization. Fran then went and researched and uncovered that, indeed, there was a connection – and what a connection it was. The ancestors of Susan’s husband, Nick Noyes, were in the inner circle of American Red Cross founder, Clara Barton! In addition, in 1949, the Noyes family donated a home to be used as the Red Cross Chapter House in Danville, New York, the same town in which Clara Barton had founded the first Red Cross chapter in the late 1800s. That Chapter House is used as a Red Cross museum and office today, displaying a collection of antiques donated by the Noyes family, as well as other memorabilia pertaining to the history of the Red Cross.

In addition to her work with the Red Cross, Susan is an avid seeker of ways to have a positive influence on the world in which we live. To that end, she founded Make It Better Media Group, a print and digital publishing company that extends to several platforms, including “Better” “Marin” and “Spaces” magazines. The motto of the media group is “Live, Love, Work, and Play with Greater Purpose” and as Susan explained, it means to live one’s life in a way that promotes “greater social impact.” A quick visit to the “Better” website and you can see the immense range of topics that the company covers. There’s everything from ways to get involved in your community to advice on travel, arts, museums, restaurants, and investing.

The Red Cross of Chicago & Northern Illinois presented the 2019 Media Partner Wesbury Award to BETTER for understanding that content sharing of the Red Cross story and mission are important for their audience to learn about.

During the past year, Susan and BETTER took direct action to tell the catastrophic disaster story and to promote public contributions for Red Cross Hurricane Michael disaster relief. 

A consortium of Chicago-area donors was formed by BETTER to offer a $90,000 matching gift challenge to anyone who donated to the Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund.  A couple of months later, another BETTER anonymous donor provided a $10,000 challenge grant to support relief operations for the devastating California Wildfires – again promoted through the BETTER digital platform. Both challenge grants were fully utilized, providing much needed support for people who lost everything.

Susan and her BETTER team accepted the 2019 Wesbury Media Award.

When thinking about the work of the Red Cross, Susan said that she has “never seen an organization make a donated dollar go further.” Thanks to great board members like her and our fantastic volunteers, the Red Cross continues to serve and thrive. Thank you, Susan, for all you do for your community and for all your hard work at the Red Cross!

Written by Red Cross Communications Volunteer Vicky Arias

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