Suzanne Pingel: Bridging the Gap


Since 2006, Suzanne Pingel has been the messenger of hope for children and their families in Pampa, selflessly devoting herself to providing the ways and means for a child to get the help and services they need.

Establishing excellent relationships, having a constant open door for communication and the unconditional devotion to be of service to the community is just a part of the foundation of a social worker; one that Suzanne has undoubtedly built.

To her, it’s more than just a job; it’s her life mission and while in a perfect world, no child would want or need for anything, she stands fighting in the trenches against the harsh realities of life, knowing that the battle will never truly be over.

From making sure that a child is clothed and nourished to dissuading a teenager from going or continuing down a destructive path, Suzanne shines as a beacon of hope in countless lives in countless ways.

“Although I’m the social worker for Pampa ISD, that also has several community factors involved with it because I have to make sure that our community partners such as CASA and Tralee and the Salvation Army and other organizations that help families are aware of the needs of our school community.”

“I work a lot with families who are going through difficult times and having those community connections are very valuable because I can call someone I know and say hey, this family is not able to pay their electric bill this month, do we have any funds available? or since I have a contact with Lion’s Club I can contact them and say this family can’t afford eyeglasses. Can we make a referral to you and you guys assist with that?

“A lot of these organizations are already in place to know of the needs of the community because of the years of building those relationships that we’ve already done, but it’s just important and valuable to keep those relationships healthy.”

Suzanne works with many numerous organizations and serves as board member or sponsors for many of them, often working behind the scenes with a team of faithful volunteers by her side, such as Snack Pack 4 Kids.

Snack Pack 4 Kids was started in Amarillo in 2010 and has since spread throughout Texas, serving thousands of kids in multiple school districts, all made possible by the countless volunteers and strong partnerships.

“The counselors at the campuses know which kids may qualify for the program and they get a persmission slip from the parents and every other Monday night, volunteers fill the sacks and we deliver those to the schools on Monday night and those counselors discreetly and privately put the bags of food in their backpacks.”

“I think our community is very giving and aware that food is the basic necessity in a child’s life to learn-children can’t learn when they’re hungry. They’ve always been ready and willing to help and we’ve had some of the same volunteers and board members when we very first started about fourteen years ago.”

For more information on how to donate or volunteer for Snack Pack 4 Kids, contact Suzanne Pingel at Pampa High School or visit their website,

While Suzanne is in direct communication with organizations that provide tangible needs for children and their families, she is also an advocate for their mental health as well.

“I’m the sponsor for SADD, Students Against Destructive Decisions and that’s a group here at the High School. It’s an open group where kids can join at anytime and the main things we do are look at local needs as well as global issues and remind students to be kind and remind them to not be judgmental and be open about their behaviors to prepare them for adulthood.”

Nearly every month out of the year, SADD gathers together to provide outreach to the community in different ways, such as food drives to local churches in November, foster gifts for kids in foster care in December, and dating violence awareness at the Tralee Crisis Center in February just to name a few.

She also works closely with Pampa Learning Center to help pregnant students get the services and support they need. 

“So whenever we learn of a student who has just found out they’re pregnant, of course they’re faced with all sorts of emotions. So the first step in providing services is through me. I talk to them and we talk about things in our community that is available to them. I make sure they’re going to a doctor and make sure we provide the services and education that we can to them or tell them of an agency that can offer that as well.”

Suzanne with her husband, Brad Pingel, started a non-profit organization called Wheel Times, Inc., a program for children and young adults with mobility challenges to participate in team sports.

The program was inspired by their daughter, Lauren, who was in a vehicle accident that resulted in her being confined to a wheelchair.

“She has always wanted to be able to be involved with sports and she had many limitations just because she didn’t quite fall into the category of Special Olympics, but she wasn’t able to do regular sports with her friends either. So we started Wheel Times, which all the players are in wheelchairs, even if they don’t have to be and the high school kids that are in SADD are the volunteers. We play basketball and touch football and all these different sporting events. So all these kids are able to experience that because it’s so important to be on a team and learn to share things and to win and lose.”

Because of the consistent communication between the schools, diagnoticians and the Pingels, Wheel Times, Inc. sees 10-12 kids on a monthly basis who come to participate and play at the Pampa High School gym.

Due to the sometimes distressing nature of the job and the tragic circumstances and situations that are brought to their door, the expected career span of a social worker is typically 5-10 years and Suzanne admits there have been times that she’s wanted to quit.

“Some days are very hard, but then I remember why I’m here. It’s not about me, it’s about them.”