SRU Good News for April 24, 2009
SRU graduate leads $9-million Florida social service agency
One never knows how a scholarship to Slippery Rock University will change a life. Take the case of Robert Rihn, a 1970 SRU graduate who was featured last week in an extensive story in The Ledger, the Lakeland, Fla., newspaper. Rihn is executive director of Tri-County Human Services, a $9-million social service agency in Lakeland.
The story, by Ledger reporter Robin Williams Adams, chronicled Rihn's life from growing up with two younger siblings in Pittsburgh, to watching his mother die of breast cancer when he was 12, to his father father's struggle with alcoholism �- and eventual death. The story told how he tried to care for his brother and sister, and how the children were separated and adopted by other families, losing contact in the process. When he graduated from Seneca Valley High School, Rihn was living at the Lutheran Children's Home in Zelienople. He told Adams that a social worker at the home served as his role model and that a scholarship to SRU set up his future success.
Before being named to head Tri-County, Rihn worked in a consultant service for health, education, social and business groups. He managed a treatment center for people with addiction and mental health problems in Lakeland.
Tri-County is a private, nonprofit organization employing 210 in the Lakeland area. It offers outpatient, prevention and detoxification programs, transitional living, a women's residential unit, in-jail mental health and substance abuse treatment programs and a dual-diagnosis residential unit.
As executive director, Rihn also serves as a lobbyist for Tri-County often talking with lawmakers as president of the Florida Alcohol and Drug Abuse Association and as a member of the board of Florida Partners in Crisis.
He told Adams he has remained in social services work for 30 years because of "seeing successes occur in people I was working with." He said making people aware of Tri-County's programs for people with substance-abuse problems has been especially satisfying.
Rihn began his career as a probation officer and children's services caseworker after earning his master's degree in social work from the University of Pittsburgh. While a graduate student, he led the opening of Polk Project, an intermediate-care facility for people with developmental disabilities.
Rihn was eventually reunited with his siblings.
Slippery Rock University is Pennsylvania's premier public residential university. Slippery Rock University provides students with a comprehensive learning experience that intentionally combines academic instruction with enhanced educational and learning opportunities that make a positive difference in their lives.
Editor's Note: The successes of our friends and colleagues at the University are something we should all celebrate�and share. The University Public Relations Office has introduced a daily E-feature to share a good news story about a person, program, activity or service associated with Slippery Rock University. When good news happens to you, please let us know so we might share it with others. Submit items through campus e-mail to: GoodNews@sru.edu.