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Holocaust center to honor city woman for service

Saturday, May 17, 2003
By Mechele Cooper, Staff Writer
Maine Today

Nancy Schatz has been called a volunteer extraordinaire.

From the time she moved to Augusta in 1969, community service organizations have enlisted her help. Those contributions will be recognized this weekend when Schatz is honored for her work highlighting a dark period of her heritage.

The start of her involvement in the community evolved from her first pregnancy. She wanted to experience a Lamaze-method childbirth, which was unheard of at the former Augusta General Hospital.

She insisted that the child be delivered naturally, and as a result, her son Karl was the first Lamaze baby born in that hospital now called MaineGeneral Medical Center. In 1970, she established a program for expectant parents that taught them the Lamaze method.

"That was the first major thing I got involved in, and I never stopped," 59-year-old Schatz said. "I'm totally driven. It's my heritage. My parents were like that, and so were Bruce's."

Schatz's husband Bruce is an associate at the Augusta accounting firm MacDonald, Page, Schatz, Fletcher & Co. LLC. They have two children Karl, 33, and Enid, 31 and are members of Temple Beth El in Augusta.

Rabbi Susan Bulba Carvutto said Schatz has a tremendous love for Judaism and her community.

"She's an incredibly wonderful person and has a broad range of interests," Bulba Carvutto said Friday. "She's organized a lot of events for us. She's committed to details and has great tastes."

Schatz, an Augusta resident who was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1982, has volunteered her services to a number of organizations, including the Arthritis Foundation, the Maine Chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society and the Holocaust Human Rights Center of Maine.

Sharon Nichols, the center's executive director, said Schatz has devoted 15 years to developing programs for that organization, including one for the observance of Yom Hashoah, the Days of Remembrance of the Victims of the Holocaust, and a day of awareness at the State House for legislators.

"Nancy is one of those board members you can always call on, and you know she's going to do the job and do it right," Nichols said Friday. "She's been a tremendous help to me personally. She does everything with a smile, and I just think she's wonderful."

Nichols said the center will honor Schatz on Sunday for her years of service and devotion to the center's educational programs. Schatz will be recognized during the center's 18th annual meeting at the Marriott at Sable Oakes in South Portland.

"We've established the Nancy Schatz Programming Fund to help support the programs she has always worked on," she said.

Schatz, who works in public schools as a physical therapist, said she became involved in the center out of respect for Holocaust survivors who were friends of her parents.

"They gave everything, except their lives, to save Jewish history," Schatz said of her parents. "They are survivors from Germany and Poland."

Two other educational programs Schatz had a hand in developing were a weeklong session for Bates College instructors on the killing of 6 million Jews and 5 million others in the years between 1933 and 1945, and a study tour to Poland.

"The wonderful thing about this organization is that when we have board meetings, it's very unusual if two people are absent," she said. "It's so important to be there. It's such an important part of so many people's lives."

Copyright © 2003 Blethen Maine Newspapers Inc.