Will Rogers Award Honors Active Columnist for Community Service

Suzette Martinez Standring to receive Will Rogers Humanitarian Award

A grant from the Milton Woman’s Club to the Friends of the Blue Hills bought new trail-clearing tools and allowed conservation programs to expand from 25 to 200 volunteers. Pictured left to Right: Doris Green, Suzette Standring, Carole Kussman, Ginny Wells, and Pat Kachinsky

Suzette Martinez Standring is one of the busiest members of the National Society of Newspaper Columnists.
She bylines a syndicated spirituality column and writes a blog, she has authored two award-winning books widely used in journalism classes, she speaks at national workshops and conferences on a variety of writing topics, hosts a cable TV show on writing, travels to far-off places in the world with her husband, David, and provides fascinating illustrated reports for social media. She devotes a great deal of time to planning conferences and other NSNC activities, and recently took on the position of executive director of our organization.

In addition to leading a full professional and family life, this petite bundle of energy and enthusiasm finds time to give of herself to community service in the Boston suburb of Milton, Mass. During the past two years, as a member of the Milton Woman’s Club, she stepped into a potential controversy over the distribution of proceeds from the sale of a historic clubhouse and achieved a successful resolution. As head of a special Finance Committee, she led an effort to engage the club members and convince them to use the money to make an immediate and significant impact on the community.

For this and other initiatives, Suzette Standring was selected as this year’s recipient of the Will Rogers Humanitarian Award. She will be honored at the annual NSNC conference in Manchester, NH, on the evening of Friday, June 9.

As a result of Standring’s leadership, the club designated $350,000 for a scholarship endowment and gave $150,000 in financial assistance to 20 organizations in the Milton community to carry out various humanitarian activities. These included:
— The Milton Council on Aging.
— The Milton Animal Shelter.
— The Milton Art Center.
— Milton Farmers’ Market, to provide nutritional assistance to low-income residents.
— Milton Residents Fund for fuel, rental assistance, and child care for people in need.
— Milton Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition.
— Lost Coin Women’s Fund, Inc., for an education program for low-income women.
— Milton Food Pantry, to buy turkeys for the needy for Thanksgiving 2016.
— Milton Public Schools, to provide funding for a Social and Emotional Health Coordinator to work directly with students to implement findings from a Youth Risk Behavior Survey.

In nominating Standring for the Will Rogers award, Charlene Mullins, former president of the Milton Woman’s Club, credited her with persuading members who wanted to keep and invest all the money received from the clubhouse sale to use it for the public good.

“Suzette responded to their every contrary comment with her vision of the benefits our community would receive with her plan,” she said, adding that she “gave countless hours to this endeavor.” The club nominated her for National Woman of the Year.

Also in 2016, the Milton Art Center awarded her its first Art and Community Together Award for her advocacy and support of the arts. She was responsible for a $6,000 grant that allowed 188 children to participate in creating 15 art installations throughout Milton.

In a supporting letter for the Will Rogers award nomination, Joan Clifford, the Center’s executive director, described Standring as “a unique force for good.” “Suzette never stops challenging herself — she lives life full throttle,” Clifford said. “She is fully engaged in service to others and in pushing herself forward into new areas of growth.”

Also supporting Standring’s nomination was Connie Spiros of Friends of the Milton Public Library, who cited her contributions as a volunteer. “She helped to create a system for writing and submitting press releases for a growing number of events,” Spiros wrote. “This translated to hours of work each month.”

“Suzette has also offered her skills as a teacher, and over the years has led several successful writing workshops at the library.” Spiros added: “Suzette has been involved with many other community nonprofits which have all benefited from her wide range of talents. She has been an active and guiding member of her church, the local Rotary, and Toastmasters chapters.

“She has shared her talents and experience in so many ways that have truly made a difference to our community.”

Standring’s syndicated column originated in 2007 in The Patriot Ledger. The newspaper’s parent company, Gatehouse Media, placed it in national syndication. She has also written humor, opinion, and lifestyle columns and features for The Boston Globe, The Huffington Post, and other media.

After joining the NSNC, she chaired the 2001 conference in San Francisco and the 2006 conference in Boston, and served as president from 2004 to 2006.

Applying what she had learned from award-winning columnists she met through NSNC, she wrote “The Art of Column Writing” in 2008 and “The Art of Opinion Writing” in 2014.

She is in demand as a writing instructor and has spoken to groups throughout the country.

In 2010, she began hosting a TV show, “It’s All Write With Suzette,” featuring writing advice and interviews with guest columnists who share insights into the writing process.

Suzette Standring will be the 19th recipient of the Will Rogers Humanitarian Award, which was established in 1999 to recognize a writer whose work has positively affected readers’ lives and produced tangible humanitarian benefits. It is named for the popular entertainer and columnist of the 1920s and early ’30s, who is remembered for his humanitarian efforts as well as his enduring wit and wisdom.

The award recipient receives a handsome statuette with an engraved brass plate, a replica of the statue in the U.S. Capitol, plus a $500 stipend to help cover expenses of attending the NSNC conference.

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