Volunteer Spotlight: Sue Rokosz

Sue and Sunny, age 11

Sue Rokosz has volunteered as a Math Tutor for GiGi’s Detroit since June of 2021. After a 39-year career with Ford Motor Company, Sue retired from the position of Senior Environmental Engineer and thankfully, brought her brilliant mind and generous heart to our Playhouse the following summer.

When it comes to tutoring, Sue always goes above and beyond. She arrives early to prepare the space for that day’s lesson and after setting up, she waits on a bench in the foyer to welcome her participant with enthusiasm. Sue knows kids with Down syndrome tend to learn differently than those without, and she consistently meets them where they are. She believes in their full potential and capacity to learn and grow, without expecting them to change or conform to the standards of others. Sue is creative and resourceful, incorporating developmentally appropriate toys, movement, and brain breaks into each lesson. We have witnessed her stay right by the side of a very energetic 7-year-old, as he moved from the tutoring room to the stage, to the train table, to the trampoline, to the basketball hoop and beyond – all while learning to add, subtract, and multiply.

Sue and Ian, age 7

Not only does Sue tutor math, but she helps with behind-the-scenes administrative tasks and has participated in many of our fundraising events as well. Outside of the Playhouse, Sue has volunteered for 20 years at a therapeutic equestrian program for people who are mentally and/or physically challenged. She is also an avid reader of biographies, non-fiction, and inspirational texts.

Sue shared that she learned about the Playhouse from two of our founders, Paul and Suzanne O’Leary. She went to grade school with Paul and reconnected with him in 2019 when he treated Sue’s father at Beaumont Hospital. She said after learning about GiGi’s, she couldn’t wait to be involved!

Curious to know more, we got Sue to answer some questions in her own words:

What is it about the mission of GiGi’s Playhouse that appeals to you, personally?

Helping people with Down syndrome reach their fullest potential.

What do you love about being at GiGi’s? What keeps you coming back?

Everyone involved with GiGi’s is terrific – staff, volunteers, kids, parents.  What a joy it is!

Do you have a favorite memory from volunteering?

It has been great getting to know my math students and their parents.  They have enriched my life so much!

What would you say is the biggest misconception about individuals with Down syndrome?

I think people put unnecessary limits on individuals with Down syndrome.

What would you say to someone who is considering volunteering at GiGi’s Playhouse?

GiGi’s has volunteering opportunities for everyone – so come on and join us!

With that, we are sending deep gratitude to Sue, for her sharp, dedicated, and inspiring offerings to our participants. We are incredibly lucky to have her!

Do you want to get involved?

We are always looking for more volunteers! Please join us for our next volunteer orientation, Saturday September 10th, from 10 – 11am. If you have any questions, email volunteerdetroit@gigisplayhouse.org or call the Playhouse at 248-557-9899.


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  1. Tonya Melton on September 14, 2022 at 1:33 pm

    Sue really is awesome!! So patient, dedicated, encouraging, and supportive!! She’s knowledgeable and very calming. She goes above and beyond to support her students! She genuinely cares about each student!!

    • Bethany Wells on September 14, 2022 at 1:47 pm

      Thanks Tonya! We couldn’t agree more 🙂

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