APPLETON, Wis. (WFRV) – Congratulations to Beth Schnorr, Northeast Wisconsin’s Remarkable Woman of the year! Read her full story below.
Remarkable Woman: Beth Schnorr, a 40-year career of advocating
APPLETON, Wis. (WFRV)- Beth Schnorr grew up in the thick of the women’s rights movement, and it inspired her. She advocated for women, and it motivated her— for 40 years.
Schnorr served as the director of Harbor House Domestic Abuse Program in Appleton for three decades.
“That would always happen to me at the time when I most needed that shot in the arm to remember why I’m here, what this is all about. So, those times were like gold,” Schnorr said.
Sometimes what she needed most was helping someone else when they needed it most.
That cycle has been Beth Schnorr’s life’s work, her gold.
“I grew up in the ’60s and ’70s, so I saw the Civil Rights Movement, the Women’s Movement, the second wave gaining momentum and I just thought you know, ‘Wow, this is affecting my life, I was living some of this personally,’ and so social work was just a way for me to have those two things come together,” said Schnorr.
After graduating from the University of Wisconsin in Green Bay, Schnorr started her career at Golden House Domestic Abuse Shelter as a Women’s Advocate.
“You know, one thing led to another and I knew that I wanted to find a career working primarily with women,” she said.
That path led to a career spanning more than 40 years for Schnorr.
She became Wisconsin’s representative for the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence.
She helped develop the Domestic Violence Intervention Team, bringing together state agencies to help survivors of domestic violence.
And most of Schnorr’s work blossomed under one roof: Appleton’s Harbor House Domestic Abuse Program, where she was the director for three decades.
“(Beth has) always has been a person of vision, looking at the bigger picture,” said Wendy Gehl, a colleague of Schnorr’s for 30 years at Harbor House.
“Not just looking at what we would do today, but looking at what we would do down the road. (Beth) also knew that bringing community together and working side-by-side with the community on this issue was very important,” Gehl said.
To help wrap your mind around just how much Harbor House grew under Schnorr, it began as a 20-bed shelter in a home off of Russet Ct. in Appleton.
Then it grew into something much bigger; A 68-bed facility on West Fifth St. in Appleton.
For Schnorr, it wasn’t just the support that Harbor House added to the community, but the hope.
“To see people turn things around, to see them get jobs, to see them become volunteers, to see them start their own businesses. Those joys far outnumbered (everything else). Survivors of domestic abuse are pretty incredible and it was a privilege to witness it,” Schnorr said.
Schnorr retired from Harbor House after more than 30 years there, but her message echoes on.
“She has a legacy in this Fox Valley area that is going to have a lasting impression for many, many years to come,” Gehl said.
“The work remains ever, ever important and of course it’s always in my heart and I’ll be cheering on from the sidelines for everyone doing that great work,” said Schnorr.