Award: HONORING WOMEN IN NEW YORK
When Jackie Schmid passed away on July 23, 2012 at the age of 51, the Cheektowaga community lost one of its most unselfish servant leaders. A passionate and enthusiastic volunteer, she was loved by her neighbors, friends and Western New York’s elected and civic leaders.
Ms. Schmid graduated from Villa Maria Academy in 1979 and worked in her family’s restaurant located on Broadway in the City of Buffalo for much of her young adulthood. At an early age, she came to understand the importance of civic engagement. She became driven to improve her community -- and she never turned back.
Ms. Schmid was the lead organizer of some of Cheektowaga’s most important community events, including the General Pulaski Parade, Independence Day Parade, and the Polish-American Arts Festival. She firmly believed that the strongest communities are those where neighbors know each other and work together toward common goals like safer neighborhoods and preserving cultural history. That’s why she always made organizing community gatherings like this a top priority.
A steadfast and loyal volunteer, Ms. Schmid also helped manage the Cheektowaga Patriotic Commission, Crabapple Festival, Squeezefest and the Cheektowaga Symphony Orchestra and was proud to share her Polish-American traditions with Western New York. In addition, Ms. Schmid was the vice chairwoman of the Cheektowaga Democratic Committee and the executive assistant to Congressman Brian Higgins.
Ms. Schmid continues to lead from a better place now. Filling her shoes has proven to be a difficult undertaking, and many new leaders have stepped up to do their part in Buffalo and Cheektowaga. While the hole left in the community is slowly being filled, the hole left in the hearts of the members of her community will take much longer to heal. Ms. Schmid’s unselfish leadership has been inspiring, and generations to come will experience her legacy because of the hard work, time and energy she so generously committed to the Town of Cheektowaga and all of Western New York.