Whicker had the honor of presenting Friend with a proclamation signed by Gov. Mike Pence, naming her a Distinguished Hoosier.
Mary Kay Hood, director of guest and volunteer services for Hendricks Regional Health, spoke about the history of the Hendricks County United Way office and how Friend came to be the director.
“When it all started, it was called the Community Fund,” Hood said. “It was in the late '90s when the process began to have local representation. I was on the advisory board when we started the hiring process.”
She said when Friend applied for the position, the committee decided the search was over.
“Susie jumped in with both feet,” Hood said. “She set a course and started on the campaign. They set a goal of $250,000 that first year and I thought we would never make it. But Susie blew the socks off of that first goal. The word 'no' is not in her vocabulary.”
For the past 11 years the Wings of Golf outing has served as the kick-off event for the annual United Way campaign drive.
“It’s been a huge success and this year we hit $1 million,” Hood said. “I think the United Way office downtown is secretly jealous of what we have out here. The United Way presence in Hendricks County is a thriving philanthropic entity. Susie, thank you for the memories.”
Andy Mohr is serving as the current campaign chairman. He represented the United Way of Central Indiana at the event.
“Susie is perpetually optimistic,” he said. “What she does every day is tough but you wouldn’t know it. She takes a hands-on approach and has been a true blessing.”
Friend took the podium to introduce her family and thank all of those who came to honor her.
“You know how to throw a party,” she said. “I worked for 43 years and have made great friends. For the first 29 years of my career, I worked for Indiana Gas in community affairs. It prepared me to work for the United Way of Central Indiana.”