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 Good News: Claire Schmieler receives Community Champion award 



SRU Good News for Jan. 21, 2009


Claire Schmieler receives Community Champion award 



Claire Schmieler, Slippery Rock University's former assistant vice president of student affairs, has been named a Community Champion by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. She will be honored Feb. 13 for Transitions, a support group for widowed people she developed following the death of her husband, Bob, in 2005. 

            "My motivation came from my own need during this time of transition between the raw grief of loss and the development of a 'new normal' as a single woman for the first time in my adult life," she said. "I think my experience was fairly typical for a widow facing loss of her life partner. I had a good life, retirement was wonderful and Bob and I were hopeful for our future together. Suddenly the bottom fell out, and I had a huge hole in my life...everything changed...I didn't know how I fit in this new landscape."

            Schmieler is also one of six finalists for the national Jefferson Award, which will include a cash award for the winner's agency. The Jefferson Award is a partnership between the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Heinz Endowments and The Pittsburgh Foundation.

             VNA Hospice Western Pennsylvania, which sponsors Transitions, nominated Schmieler. The hospice provided support in the last day of her husband's life and bereavement support for Schmieler and her family following his death, she said. 

            The Transitions program provides a monthly support group for men and women in bereavement. It also provides monthly social dinners and opportunities for members to participate in special events such as SRU's Performing Arts Series. The program focuses on the concept of receiving support and then reaching out to give support. 

            "The support of others experiencing similar transition was a key factor in my survival," she said.  "I learned quickly the importance of getting out of my own misery by reaching out and helping someone else."

            One of Schmieler's projects included helping a young man on his Eagle Scout project. A year ago, she established a Memorial Community Bereavement Library in Bob's name at the VNA Hospice Office in Butler. 

            She also helps raise funds for Transitions. For the past three years, Schmieler has served as a family/patient support volunteer, trained to help in the patient's home. Out of this work, she developed the Legacy Life Story Program to help patients leave a legacy for their family. She provides training and coaching to other volunteers. Noreen Hurlehey, SRU's women soccer coach, is her most recent trainee.
 Schmieler retired from SRU in 2003 but she and her late husband left a lasting legacy. They established the Claire Schmieler Leadership Institute for Professional Women at SRU, an endowed fund to provide year-long professional development for women.

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.


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