Suzanne Gladney Receives Prestigious Community Award

Recently, Kansas City Altrusan Suzanne Gladney received the prestigious Mattie Rhodes Center Service Award. This award is given to someone who exemplifies the spirit of Mattie Florence Rhodes, the founder of the Mattie Rhodes Center, which serves the poor and suffering primarily in the Hispanic area of Kansas City. As a teenager, Mattie Rhodes gave back to those in need. At her death at age 19, she left $500 to her church group to continue to work for the needy and suffering. The Center has been continuing her work and paying it forward since 1894. The award was given at the annual Mattie Rhodes Center Spirit of Excellence Luncheon.

President and CEO John Fierro and Lydia Madruga, Clinical Therapist, presented the award to Suzanne. Lydia stated: “Suzanne is a champion and advocate who has dedicated her life to aiding those in need. She is a force of justice and equity. Suzanne embodies compassion as she sees the importance of human relationships, through the ethical standards and practice of beneficence, justice, dignity of the person, integrity and competence. Lastly, Suzanne’s devotion and faithfulness to her family, friends and community is admirable. She is truly an inspiration for all.” Lydia went on to say that Suzanne’s 37 years as an immigration attorney at Legal Aid of Western Missouri, managing its immigration practice, including creation of a model migrant worker program, extends to educating social service providers and other professionals who work with immigrants about the law and rights of immigrants. Her help to the Mattie Rhodes Center’s participants and their families and the legal challenges they face has been invaluable.

Suzanne accepted the award by recalling that when she began at Legal Aid, she was told that the Mattie Rhodes Center was one place she needed to get to know and she still had the card she received at that first agency visit as a Legal Aid lawyer. She issued a call to action to the 600 persons present to use their rolodexes to encourage their friends and contacts to help the needy in specific ways.

Altrusa International of Greater Kansas City is understandably proud of its past president, Suzanne Gladney. In 1999, Suzanne was only the fourth recipient of the Eleanor Roosevelt Humanitarian Award given by Altrusa International Inc. in acknowledgement of outstanding service to Altrusa and community. The purpose of Altrusa is to promote better communities through service by an international network of people with diverse backgrounds and experiences. Suanne Gladney has been involved in Altrusa since 1979 and has served at the local, district and international levels of this dynamic service organization.

Recognition of Suzanne's accomplishments go back to 1985 when she was honored as Civic Woman of the Year by the Kansas City Women's Chamber of Commerce. Long involved with Snoopy's Pumpkin Patch in partnership with Crown Center and Met Life, she was recognized for her efforts by the US Committee for UNICEF and awarded the 1986 Humanitarian Award. She received the National Humanitarian Award from Legal Service Corporation in 1992. The same year she was recognized as Mayor's World Citizen, an award given by the city of Kansas City, Missouri. In 2000 she received the Kansas City Spirit Award as well as the Missouri Association for Social Welfare Community Service Award. She was the recipient of the Community Partner Award by Jewish Vocational Services in Kansas City in 2002. Locally St. Teresa's Academy honored her with the Women Change America Award in 2005. Her alma mater the University of Missouri Law School in Columbia, MO gave her the Citation of Merit award in 2005. She also received the Healthy Lafayette Award in 2012 from the Health Care Foundation of Kansas City. Last year in addition to the recognition that she received as the Community Honoree for the Mattie Rhodes Center, she was also awarded the Makers of KC Social Service Award by Kansas City Public Television. Clearly she is a woman who has been paying it forward for many years.

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