Pauline Schneider, left, plays the piano at the Festival of Trees. Courtesy photo
Pauline Schneider, left, and Mihaela Popa-Simil. Courtesy photo
By BERNADETTE LAURITZEN
After almost 18 years of service, Pauline Powell Schneider departs the Los Alamos Retired and Senior Organization (LARSO) and the heart Betty Ehart Senior Organization, on a day none other than Friday, the13th. While the day shouldn’t bring bad luck, it is sure to bring hugs, smiles, fond words and a few tears.
Powell Schneider and husband, Dr. Greg Schneider will head to the Great White North in just a few weeks and today’s celebration is a change for community members to bid her adieu at 4 p.m. this afternoon. The musical duo will head back to be near Pauline’s family, in just a few weeks.
Kay Burick, the right hand of the senior center for many years described the departing director as someone that is always smiling and helped everyone. “She brought special joy to the Day Out people and people in general, when she brought her dog Scamp to work. She is one wonderful person and I am going to miss her very much.”
She made a mark on the legacy of the senior centers, but more importantly, she leaves behind relationships, memories and left an impression on the community. Her work as the Director was not a singular role as she was the type of boss to fill in on a moment’s notice. One minutes she could be writing grants and reports, the next she steps into duties in the Day Out program, answers phones at the transportation desk or provides chef support in the kitchen. Her volunteer work continued in roles with the Community Health Council during its formative years, through work on the board of Los Alamos Medical Center, musical moments as a music therapist with Visiting Nurses and so much more.
A community member stated that with Pauline’s work through Visiting Nurses, she once took her mobile harp to the home of one woman whose breast cancer had traveled to the brain. While the illness occasionally brought bouts of sleepless nights and anger, the family had the blessing to see their mother in a way never seen before. They not only enjoyed the beauty of the harp but the patient began to sign Disney songs aloud and enjoying a moment without the thought of cancer anywhere in sight.
Mihaela Popa-Simil who worked with Powell Schneider in the LARSO finance office refers to her former boss as a, “servant leader.” She jokes that while she was in charge of the numbers, Pauline made the numbers count. A servant leader is one that many aspire to, but Schneider did with ease as one does when it is part of the core of their being.
“Pauline’s gift is to make beautiful music that, if you lived in Los Alamos for some time, you know, she gives it away unconditionally,” Popa-Simil said. “Pauline is genuinely a caring person and loves her people, from seniors, to the staff, and volunteers who want to make a difference.”
Popa-Simil says, “When words fail, music doesn’t, as she leaves, I want her to have it all, as the song says, ‘May you have auspiciousness and causes of success…May you know the meaning of the word happiness/May you always lead from the beating in your chest/May you be treated like an esteemed guest…And may the best of your todays be the worst of your tomorrows!”
While Powell Schneider’s shoes might seem too big to fill for the next Director, Linda Boncella is the next Cinderella, to take her seat at the table. “I admire Pauline’s calm and steady demeanor, plus she has an incredibly caring nature,” Boncella said. What will she enjoy the most in her new role? “That I will be continuing to work with the wonderful, caring employees and volunteers that LARSO has, as well as interacting with everyone who enjoys what our senior centers have to offer.”