If you spend much time with Gaye Suggett, you soon feel like you’ve known her forever. She has a kind, welcoming smile and is so easy to talk to. Gaye grew up on a farm in New Bloomfield where her parents still live today. They taught her that faith and family are most important, and at the same time there’s nothing like living on a farm to teach you a hard work ethic.
Today Gaye and her husband, Tim, live in Tebbetts and have two children. Their son and his wife are currently expecting their fourth child. As most Nanaws, Gaye beams when she talks about her grandchildren.
Gaye has been with Ameren Missouri for 34 years. She started as a clerk at the nuclear plant. Today she is the Manager of Regulatory Affairs. "Ameren encourages their employees to be involved in the community," Gaye said as she quoted their moto – "Serve, support and invest in the communities we call home." She truly took that message to heart and over the years has served on many committees and boards, including the Jefferson City Area Chamber of Commerce, United Way of Central Missouri, Boys and Girls Club, St. Andrew’s Parish Church, Missouri Chamber Leadership Alumni, and Greater Missouri Leadership Foundation, to name a few. She had just come from ringing the bell for the Salvation Army for Zonta when we sat down to do this interview.
One of her current positions is chair of the Fund Allocation Panel for the United Way. This panel meets with each of the organizations that receives United Way funds in our community and confirms what the funds will be used for and how funding is going to help individuals in need. The panel produces a report, which is then provided to the United Way Board of Directors for final approval. Gaye noted that she and her panel are in the unique position to see exactly the impact those funds are having in our community. She shared a story of how the Boys & Girls Club had a boy who had been a very good student and whose grades started slipping. He was in jeopardy of dropping out of school. When Stephanie Johnson (director of the Boys & Girls Club) visited with him, she discovered his mother had recently taken a job and was no longer there to see that he got up in the morning for school. Stephanie purchased an alarm clock and quickly solved the problem for this child. Gaye added if it weren’t for the meals provided by the club before children go home that many of them would have nothing to eat that evening. The Boys and Girls Club also provides help with homework to assist these children, which they would often otherwise not have.
Another story Gaye shared was about a little girl from Big Brothers Big Sisters. She struggled in school in every way. She struggled academically, with hygiene issues and didn’t dress like the other second grade children, so school was a very lonely place for her. However, after her classmates saw her big sister spend time with her, they became more open to spending time with her. The little girl said the day her big sister came was the happiest day of her week.
Gaye noted that not all the stories are happy ones. Often she has tears in her eyes as she listens to the plight of some of our local children and families. But she quickly added that it just makes their panel all the more steadfast in being sure local funds are going to the right places to help as many people as possible. Gaye added, “We have such a great and giving community. We are blessed to have a well-run United Way that focuses on the needs of the people and ensures that the funds entrusted to them are being used to change lives.”
“I am blessed that Ameren allows me the time away from my job to help others.” Gaye said. It’s easy to see that our community has benefited from this farm girl’s devotion to service and hard work ethic.