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August 6, 2001

Mead hopes for Super Tuesday

By Michael Terrazas


Come Aug. 14, Atlanta’s WTBS Channel 17—the country’s original “Superstation”—could turn out to be just that for Sue Mead.

Mead, a clinical improvement specialist in the surgery department of the School of Medicine, was named one of TBS’ “Super 17” volunteers in May. Each year the station solicits nominations for individuals in Atlanta who have given their all and then some in volunteer work, and a panel picks 17 winners from various fields (health, poverty, environmental issues, etc.). The Super 17 all were honored at a ceremony held in May at Zoo Atlanta; Mead left the zoo with a smart-looking glass award and a $500 check to donate to her charity, Project Open Hand.

But next week—on Tuesday, Aug. 14, at 8 p.m.—Mead will have 10,000 reasons to tune in to the Superstation.

At that time, TBS will air a two-hour special on its Super 17 volunteers and encourage viewers to vote for which one they think is most deserving of the grand prize: $10,000 to be donated in the winner’s name to charity.

“That would go quite a long way toward buying meals for many clients,” said Mead, who spends virtually every Saturday at Project Open Hand’s headquarters in Midtown, packing lunches and dinners for the roughly 700 clients to whom the nonprofit organization delivers free, healthy meals twice a day.

Mead said each Project Open Hand meal costs roughly $3.50; that comes to 2,857 meals that could be bought with the TBS cash prize, with a few pennies left over for dessert.

“One of the nice things is that Project Open Hand has a mailing list of about 4,000,” Mead said of the efforts currently under way to promote her candidacy for the Most Super of the Super 17. “So between that and the people I know here at Emory, my friends and family, and the church groups where I sing, we’re hoping to get the word out.”

Viewers will be asked to elect a winner through the program’s website; information about the Super 17 is located at, and Mead said the polls will be open from 8:05–10:05 p.m. the night of Aug. 14.

Mead has been spending her Saturdays at Project Open Hand for 10 years. Back in the late 1980s, Mead began volunteering for hospice-type organizations after she lost her mother to pancreatic cancer. She then became familiar with Project Open Hand, which soon became her primary volunteering outlet. The group provides in-home meals to the elderly and to individuals suffering from debilitating illnesses. Mead said on a typical Saturday she helps prepare about 2,800 meals.

During the week, Mead works with Aaron Fink, professor of general surgery, on Emory’s participation in the National Surgical Quality Improvement Program. The program has been in operation for many years at the nation’s public hospitals (the VA Hospital has participated for about eight years, Mead said), but Emory is one of only three private institutions in the country now participating.

Mead has held this position only since April 2000, but preparing meals for needy people isn’t the only thing she’s done with longevity—Mead started working at Emory in 1978 and has held a variety of posts around the University.

Perhaps 23 years’ worth of Emory contacts will land her enough votes to become truly Super on Aug. 14.


Back to Emory Report August 6, 2001