40 Stories - Susan Smith

Gwinnett Shelter Manager

What were you doing in 2002?  Susan Smith was joining the staff of PADV as an overnight shelter advocate.  Susan came to PADV after an extremely difficult time in her life.  She had just returned to Atlanta after fleeing her abusive husband and spending a few months recovering surrounded by the strength and love of her family in Brooklyn, NY. 

What drives Susan’s work at PADV is her desire to help those who find themselves in the same situation that she experienced find resources and assistance.  It’s important because when Susan was in her domestic violence situation she wasn’t aware of community support available, resulting in her shouldering the full burden of leaving alone.  As a strong and core member of the PADV staff, Susan is committed to making sure every person who contacts us has access to all the resources and assistance they need to survive and thrive.

Susan is now the Shelter Manager for the Gwinnett Safe House.  She is responsible for hiring, training, and supervising up to 15 shelter staff, facilitating weekly client house meetings, and overseeing all house and vehicle maintenance needs. Every day Susan touches every aspect of a client’s shelter experience,   drawing on her compassion and personal experience as she impacts residents at every stage of their journey through domestic violence.  From answering the crisis line to comforting a little girl on her first night in the shelter to helping a family pack as they transition out of the shelter into their own safe and stable home, Susan sees it all.

Susan wants everyone to know that “There is help out there. When you are planning to leave BE SMART and THINK SAFETY.  The most vulnerable time for a survivor is when she is working to leave an abusive situation.  And so important: “Don’t be afraid to ask for help!”