TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) – Connie Sanchez has devoted her life to helping kids, seniors and families. Her husband Andy says her love, compassion and hope for humanity makes her stand out.
That’s what makes her the winner of our Remarkable Women series.
Connie is a licensed clinical psychotherapist. She says her desire to help others started from the beginning.
“Probably was born that way,” Connie said. “I mean, it was just kind of a natural inclination to be in that environment. I was always that friend who wanted to help other friends.”
She’s worked in various positions throughout her career including at Court Appointed Special Advocates of Shawnee County (CASA), working with seniors doing group therapy at the Ascension Via Christi hospital in Manhattan and working at Lawrence Memorial Hospital in the trauma center.
You can tell she truly cares about each person she works with and their wellbeing. Connie and her husband Andy met when they were in junior high. He agrees, she’s always had a way of helping others.
“Right away, people just gravitate towards her and talk about their life,” Andy said.
As they grew up and started their careers, they eventually started a new adventure: a family. Connie decided to take a step back from her career and worked part time to care for their kids.
She said she felt like that taught them the value of working and giving back to others, but being a mom was an important job to her too. Andy said he thinks of her as the glue for the family. But for Connie, sometimes it was hard for her to achieve that work-life balance.
“I had to put my clients first some days and so that was difficult because i knew i was doing that sometimes and that made it really hard,” Connie said.
“I could see a change in her, but she just again, she always seems to land on her feet, and she persevered and said that she could do this in terms of balancing and working part-time and being a good parent,” Andy said.
In 1998, Connie helped pioneer state legislation and the start of a new program called “Safe Visit.” The program offers parents and kids to have safe, supervised visits or exchange at a neutral site.
“It was hard,” Connie said. “It was like a whole new arena for me.”
But she and others dedicated to helping people got the job done. She was even recognized for her work by then Attorney General Carla Stoval. Connie has been recognized at least two other times for her work throughout her career. When we asked her about them, she sighed and gave a humbled answer.
“It’s kind of embarrassing,” Connie said. “Because you’re doing your job and you want to do a good job. But when you’re acknowledged for that, it really feels good but at the same time it’s like, well I’m proud of that but at the same time it just feels a little embarrassing to me.”
But Andy said knowing how hard she’s worked and having to give up things in the process, she deserves it.
“Well, it’s been gratifying for me because I feel like, first of all, the kind of work she does, they get very little recognition for what they do,” Andy said.
In the past few years, Connie lost her mom and Andy lost both parents. But through those losses, new life has come into the picture and Connie has an additional job title: grandma.
“I’ve seen her just grow a lot,” Andy said. “I always tried to imagine being a grandpa and then watching her how natural it came for her to be a grandma. I knew she was a good mother because I saw that happen over the years, but just how easily she became a grandma and took on that new role.”
Andy said Connie’s caring heart is what makes her a Remarkable Woman.