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Recent graduate makes volunteering her career

Volunteer agencies vaulted into action as the crisis unfolded during the summer 2011 Mouse River Flood.

A key figure in the flood fight was Minot State University graduate Susan Ewert '09, who served at the time as emergency services director and volunteer coordinator for the American Red Cross.

Up and down the river valley, the Red Cross fed evacuees and emergency workers and provided cleaning supplies to homeowners. Most importantly, it provided shelter for the newly homeless.

"For the individuals who had no place to go, having a shelter was so important," Ewert said. "It saved them from having to move out of town, find hotel rooms, or live in their cars or on the street."

Behind the efforts was an army of 150 local volunteers. They are the reason Ewert joined the Red Cross three years ago after majoring in broadcasting and multimedia studies at MSU.

"I grew up volunteering," the always upbeat Ewert said. "I was really excited to work with volunteers and help them fulfill their passion for volunteering."

The ill-tempered Mouse River also flooded Red Cross headquarters on Fourth Avenue Northwest in Minot.

"I was at the shelter," Ewert said. "There wasn't any time for me to run across town and rescue things from my office. The water was already coming through the garage in the back."

After the flood crisis ended and the recovery period began, Ewert left the Red Cross and joined the Salvation Army. Once again, her work involves housing the needy.

"My job is working with homeless veterans and their families," she said. "It's so rewarding to be able to offer financial assistance and see them going from being on the streets to being in housing."

Her new job often brings her back to the MSU campus. Collaborating with David Klassy, director of the Veterans Center, Ewert offers services to the 180 veterans attending college full time. Ewert grew up volunteering in her hometown of Anamoose. She feels blessed to be working in a profession she loves.

"I feel like I'm volunteering permanently," she said. "I really enjoy the nonprofit world. It's so much more rewarding than a lot of the other jobs I looked into. Nonprofits are where my heart is right now."

In addition to her work at the Salvation Army, Ewert volunteers with Companions for Children, Minot Area Homeless Coalition and Exchange Club.

"I still get to do some fun volunteering," she said.