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Conversations with Susan Hietpas

Today we’d like to introduce you to Susan Hietpas.

Hi Susan, can you start by introducing yourself? We’d love to learn more about how you got to where you are today?
Simply Amazing is inspired by the positive, creative energy of Emily Smith. Emily was an avid arts and crafts lover from a very young age. She traveled with a sketchpad and pencils, squirreled away bottle caps and broken trinkets for craft projects, and designed cards for every occasion. But more than that, Emily was kind. She wanted everyone to be treated fairly and equally. She knew the power of words, the strength of small actions, and the joy of an unsolicited opportunity. Emily died November 22, 2017, from a fentanyl overdose. Her life was celebrated on her 27th birthday at her family home and was attended by more than 200 of her family and friends. Champagne was popped and balloons were sent to the sun and stars, a send-off in true “Emily style.” Susan Hietpas, Emily’s mom, founded Simply Amazing to continue her daughter’s spirit of kindness, love of art, and giving nature.

Six months after Emily’s death, Simply Amazing began to take shape. Board members include family members, friends of Susan, and friends of Emily. Each board member brings talent and insight to the group and each person has their own connection and memories of Emily. Our mission is provide art and craft supplies that inspire creativity and empower deserving children. We serve children that live in temporary housing, foster care, or participate in at-risk youth programs. We donate to partner organizations that serve the same population. Programs that receive Simply Amazing programs include Boys and Girls Club, Harbor House, Seminole County Sheriff Juvenile Department, Children’s Home Society, and IMPOWER. Simply Amazing’s cornerstone program is Simply Amazing Creative Boxes. We also have two auxiliary programs – Summer Fun Packs and Holiday Create-A-Cards. Since our first delivery in February 2019, we have served more than 6,000 children.

Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
There are always some struggles and most of ours revolve around time – we are managed and operate solely on volunteer hours.

Can you tell our readers more about what you do and what you think sets you apart from others?
For 11 years, I worked in the development office at Trinity Preparatory School. I loved working as the Director of Parent Relations. I learned a ton about fundraising and event management. Currently, I work in the Clinical Trial industry – I love being part of something that helps people. I’m most proud of Simply Amazing – creating a brand, telling our story, fundraising, and planning events to promote our mission.

Any advice for finding a mentor or networking in general?
Be present – that is the most important part of networking. Listen and learn.

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