In 1986 Susan was a nurse on the cancer-leukemia ward at Long Beach Veterans Hospital. Each time her precious patients died, Susan was exposed to grief and loss as she witnessed the families in despair. At the time resources for her grieving families were minimal in Long Beach. A heavy burden was laid on Susan’s heart to support these grieving families and pursue a greater understanding of grief education and support. Continued research and practice led Susan to author a Journey of Hope handbook in 1987 as a means of survival for the grieving adult. Not satisfied that a book was enough, Susan developed grief support programs for the community and began offering them at night after work. She offered groups in the community for the next 14 years as a volunteer.
With the need for grief support growing in the Greater Long Beach area Susan resigned from her full-time hospice nursing position in 1999, and in January of 2000 founded New Hope Grief Support Community. As the Founder and Executive Director Susan designed programs for adults, children, teens, young adults, adults and parents who suffered the loss of a child.
Susan’s early work at New Hope included creating curriculum and programs for grieving children and teens. The success of those programs lead her to author several of New Hope’s children’s workbooks and books which included A Kids Journey of Grief (English/Spanish), A Military edition of Kids Journey of Grief, and In 2009 Susan oversaw the development of A Journey With Mrs. Beens, a book designed to help grieving children understand the grieving process. This project was the spring-board for New Hope’s Mrs. Beens Program, designed for young children to explain death, burial and cremation.
In 2003, Sue expanded programs for grieving youth and began offering a 3-day camp for grieving children in Long Beach, a unique weekend experience for children and teens. Wanting to grow and be able to help more grieving people, Sue retired Kids Camp in 2010 to make way for helping the entire grieving family. In 2011, Susan expanded the camps to include the entire family, recognizing the importance for the family to receive grief support.
Susan understood the importance of New Hope and it’s mission, and knew that she could not do the work alone. Over her 15 years of service at New Hope Sue developed and built strategic partnerships with the Long Beach Unified School District, Sunburst Youth Challenge Academy, Association for Death Education & Counseling (ADEC), National Alliance for Grieving Children (NAGC), The City of Long Beach and Long Beach Ronald McDonald House. These partnerships have given New Hope the platform to expand services to grieving children and families.
After 15 years of service to New Hope and the community Susan retired in 2014. Sue realized the importance of fund development and sustainability to support the work of New Hope. Sue successfully built partnerships with the Long Beach Earl B. and Loraine H. Miller Foundation, New York Life Foundation and OCAHU (Orange County Association of Health Underwriters). Through all these means New Hope has been carrying out its mission, “to help grieving people find hope and healing.” Today, New Hope continues to create insightful and innovative programs and resources to provide the most appropriate help and compassionate support for those of all ages who grieve. In the words of Susan Beeney “New Hope is moving onward and upward“.