Background

I grew up in the small western New York city of Tonawanda, a small Erie Canal town bordered on the west by the Niagara River that flows over the mighty Niagara Falls. My grandfather and father ran a local Purina Farm Store there that was always a source of great pride for my sister and me. Everyone knew our store, and it was a fun place to explore, always filled with the heady scents of animal feeds, hay, grains, seeds, cotton and burlap feed bags and illusive barn cats!

 

Tonawanda was a small, working class community where the Schreiber family was well-known and involved in many aspects of community life such as business, the fire department, church, and Rotary International. I walked to neighborhood schools from kindergarten through high school and had several of the same teachers my parents, aunts, uncles and cousins had. Classes were small and teachers and parents were united in their efforts to guide us into becoming well-educated, productive citizens, as well as kind and compassionate human beings! This is where my creativity was first nurtured, where I was encouraged to express myself through my writing and where I found big hearted adults eager to read and respond to my writing.

 

During four years at Elmhurst College (Illinois), I double-majored in Christian Education and English with a minor in psychology. My artistic expression was inspired by singing in the Elmhurst College Choir. Opportunities for creative writing came through the Cultural Life Committee where I was a prolific writer of liturgy for student worship celebrations.

 

Upon graduation, I accepted a full-time position as director of Christian Education at the First Congregational (UCC) Church in Spencerport, NY. Spencerport is where I met my husband, where we made our home and raised our family. Our daughter and her family live and work close-by. Our son and his family live and work in California.

 

I have enjoyed a 35-year career in communications and public relations in the greater Rochester area, primarily in the fields of education and healthcare. Writing was a huge part of that work which offered countless opportunities to use and hone my creative writing skills.

 

Retirement has given me the freedom to be a late-rising spouse, an indulgent grandparent, a spontaneous friend, a Red Cross volunteer, a hospice volunteer, and a weekly reader for Reach Out Radio for the blind and visually impaired.

 

Retirement has also opened a whole new world of creative opportunities for me. I finally have time to pursue the many projects I dreamed about for so long! My unexpected diagnosis with Stage 3 triple negative breast cancer in May 2009 motivated me into prioritizing and organizing the most important creative projects with a new sense of urgency…not because I don’t expect to have many productive years ahead of me, but because I realize that THIS is the time I have waited for, longed for. This is my moment. CARPE DIEM!

We have enough people who tell it like it is - now we could use a few who tell it like it can be.

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-Robert Orben

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