Busta’s Celebration of the Week: This woman deserves to be celebrated

Susan Frye and community leader and organizer Joyce Hackett.

Busta’s Celebration of the Week: This woman deserves to be celebrated
June 27
00:20 2019

By Busta Brown

I walked into Ivy Arms Community Center this past Sunday afternoon and I saw the residents and surrounding community residents smiling, laughing, hugging, and sharing beautiful stories about the guest of honor. It was crystal clear how much they all adored her. She stood in awe of how much love and appreciation everyone was showing.

For nine years she was responsible for more than 90 employees, recording and maintaining thousands of documents, such as criminal judgments and divorce cases. But Susan Frye’s love and passion for the people of Winston-Salem went beyond the four corners of her office, where she was the Forsyth County Clerk of Court for nine years.

“Susan Frye is a very special lady in a whole lot of people’s lives. She has done so much for me and the community. I missed her retirement party, so I wanted to show my gratitude for her and put together this appreciation party today,” said community leader and organizer Joyce Hackett.

Art Green shared a very heartwarming story about when he first met Susan Frye. Art is the founder of the organization Friends Helping Friends in Winston-Salem. “I met Susie Frye back in 2014, on an extremely rainy day. She was down in Cleveland projects. She invited me down to talk about an organization which she was the president, called H.O.P.E (Help Our People Eat). At that time, I didn’t know what it was. Suddenly, I see her walking in the rain trying to get all these kids and she said, ‘Help me knock on doors and get the kids.’ We got all these kids and took them into the Cleveland Rec Center. During the summer, they had Vacation Bible Study on 14th Street. She asked me to provide food for the kids five days a week and I did it without hesitation. And our relationship grew from there. My organization feeds the homeless eight times a year and she helped me with that. I love what she does. I thank God for Susie Frye.” 

As I spoke with the adoring friends of Susan Frye, we partied as well. The DJ was blazing Frankie Beverly and Maze, “Before I let go,” Al Green’s “Love and Happiness,” Cheryl Lynn, Rick James, The O’Jays and more classic Soul & R&B. The food was laid out as well. Ribs, collard greens, yams, mac ‘n’ cheese, fried chicken, potato salad, and a cake with a gorgeous picture of the lady of honor.

Frye was mingling with everyone inside the Ivy Arms Community Center, so no one felt left out. She hugged and individually thanked all of them for coming. The resident that stole my heart was “The Mayor.” No, not Allen Joines – Mattie Young, better known as Miss Mattie. The residents call the beautiful 76-year-old “The Mayor of Cleveland Avenue Homes.” She was sporting a finger wave hairdo that would make the legendary Josephine Baker bow down. Miss Mattie lived in Cleveland Avenue Homes for 43 years and during that time Susan Frye has been a blessing to her as well. “Mrs. Frye is a very loving and kind woman. She loves people and will do anything she can to help you when you’re in need. She’s a good friend to everyone.” The two met 12 years ago and they’ve been friends ever since. During that time, Frye helped Mattie’s son find a job and place to live after he was released from the county jail.

Leroy Richardson Jr. knew the retired Forsyth County Clerk of Court ever since his teenaged years. “I met when she played softball at Hanes Hosiery for the Diamond Girls.” Leroy worked with a male mentoring group in The Cleveland Housing Development. “We mentored boys 13 and older and helped them get a good start in life. Mrs. Frye helped us get our program started and then helped us get a facility. We also worked with young men in the court system get a fresh start back into the community. She’s a phenomenal woman,” said Leroy Richardson. 

Susan Frye’s soft heart works hard for the people of Winston-Salem, which made it very hard for me to pull her away from all of residents and neighbors from the community who came out to her well-deserved, Appreciation Party. When I finally slipped her away into a quiet and empty spot inside the community center, she didn’t have to say a word about the love and passion she has for people. I felt it and could see it in her eyes.

As the Forsyth County Clerk of Court with her soft heart, she put in the extra hard work. “The greatest thing about my job was helping people. A lot of people coming in that lost their drivers licenses and didn’t know what to do to get those back. Some people had loved ones in the county detention center department of corrections and needed help understanding how to handle certain issues. I loved helping people understand the system and how to navigate through it.”

Then we talked about what she’s done for so many people outside of the four walls of her office and that’s when the passion elevated. She shared a story that very, very few people in her position would have done. “During an ice storm in Winston-Salem, I received a call from a family member whose son was supposed to have gotten out of jail that day. They came from Burlington to pick him up, but Winston-Salem was pretty much shut down because of the storm. He checked out because he didn’t get the message to wait on his parents and no one knew where he was and they were very upset.” The family was from Burlington and didn’t know much about the Twin City. The mother felt lost and afraid something had happened to her son. Even during an ice storm, Frye immediately went into action. “I took them to different places and churches where most of the homeless people go and we eventually found him at a church at the north end of town.” There are so many stories like this you’ll hear about Frye and the best part – she doesn’t like sharing them. She’s someone who gives without an agenda, never looking for any accolades. 

Although she’s retired, the fight for a better and stronger community continues. “I’m still working with other city officials and leaders to get more treatment for drugs and alcohol issues. We need residential treatment. We have such a divided part between the haves and have-nots in our city and we need to work on that as much as possible. There are so many housing projects where the children do not have any playground equipment or nothing to entertain and educate themselves during the day in the summer. Not even a picnic table or bench and it’s not fair.”

Her closing words said it all: “God is by my side, so I chose to be by the side of those in need.”

Susan Frye – a woman who deserves to be celebrated.

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