A Seventh-day Adventist Organization

Why Susanne Montgomery loves the Grow Together program and South Africa

Susanne Montgomery, PhD, says the convenience of giving to the Grow Together employee giving program fits her budget and schedule.

It just makes sense to Susanne Montgomery, PhD, to support causes she believes in through the Grow Together employee giving program at Loma Linda University Health.

Why? Because Montgomery is busy. According to the faculty directory, she holds six separate appointments on campus:

• Associate dean for research, School of Behavioral Health
• Head of interdisciplinary studies, School of Behavioral Health
• Professor of social work and social ecology, School of Behavioral Health
• Professor of preventive medicine, School of Medicine
• Professor of public health, School of Public Health
• Member, Faculty of Graduate Studies

She also has a husband and grown children, so she appreciates the ease of giving through Grow Together.

“My life is busy,” she admits, “but Grow Together helps a lot. It’s an easy, no-pain way to give. If I have to remember to write a check, I don’t do it, but this way, I select the programs I want to support and the amount I want to give. The payroll deduction plan makes it easy. It’s within my budget and it’s the right thing to do.”

Another reason Montgomery admires the Grow Together program is that it allows employees to pick and choose an existing program to support or create one of their own. Montgomery chose two: one she created because of her concern for the financial difficulties minority students often face, and the other an existing program.

“I support a minority student scholarship program at the School of Public Health and the Seeds of Hope program through the Behavioral Medicine Center,” she shares.

“I wish we could do more to encourage minority students from our community,” she continues. “It’s hard for minority students to afford a private Christian university like Loma Linda. Normally, it would be out of the question. But a short-term loan from the minority student scholarship program makes it a little easier and allows them some help if they run into financial challenges.”

She is equally passionate about the Seeds of Hope program.

“I would like to help de-stigmatize mental health,” she says. “We are always willing to treat a broken toe, but we’re not so excited about depression or other mental health issues. The Seeds of Hope program makes life a lot better for people in our community struggling with problems we don’t usually want to talk about.”

When she’s not at work, Montgomery enjoys traveling, either alone or with her husband and adult children, reading, athletic activities, and photography.

“I’m an athlete,” she says. “An athlete that’s gotten old. My knees and joints are creaking, so I walk now instead of running. But I really love to travel. I get to travel a lot for Loma Linda and I enjoy it immensely. I never stay in nice hotels, but I tell my friends I pass by the nicer hotels in the Land Rover en route to the bush country.”

She cocks her head and looks to the corner of the room when asked about her favorite place.

“I’d have to say it’s South Africa,” she answers a moment later. “It is very, very, very beautiful and was the first country I visited in Africa. I was impressed with how friendly the people were and how warmly they treated me. Everybody always says you either love Africa or you hate it and I fell in love with Africa in South Africa. There is a place called the Valley of a Thousand Hills. It’s a beautiful area with literally thousands of small hills rippling off into the distance. Every morning, it gets a little misty. It’s like God drew you a picture. Looking out over those hills is where I first fell in love with South Africa. Since then I’ve been to many other countries—I just got back from Malawi and I love it, too.”

Montgomery says giving is sometimes neglected for a very simple reason.

“I think giving is important,” she says. “People often don’t give because they’re not asked. Most people would do more giving if they were asked. We give through church and other agencies, but this smaller giving—this social responsibility giving —is important, too.”

Additional information about the Grow Together program is available online at http://advancement.lluhealth.org/grow-together