By Lori Sachare
“It sits on your heart,” says Chappaqua’s Susan Schrott, a mixed media artist and psychotherapist, flashing a soulful smile. She was displaying a silver pendant around her neck, which was reflecting the light in her sunny home studio. Not simply a piece of jewelry, the necklace represents the hope of fulfilling Schrott’s dream to assist those in need of therapy for eating disorders.
Schrott, who has worked as a psychotherapist treating patients with eating disorders since 1989, was concerned that the economic downturn had impacted the ability of many motivated people to pay for treatment, and was determined to do something about it. “I am a believer in doing mitzvot (the Hebrew word for good deeds) – giving back,” says Schrott.
One way Schrott gives back is by donating artwork to charitable causes. She began working with textiles after taking a quilting class while pregnant with her daughter, Rose, who is in her first year of college. Now, Schrott is an award-winning and nationally exhibited artist.
In a meeting with Judy Scheel, Executive Director at CEDAR Associates, where Schrott has worked since 2001, the answer was conceived. They decided to produce “Behold,” a pendant based on the design of a textile piece Schrott created, inspired by a photo of Rose. “It embodies that essence of beautiful woman, young or old. She is barefoot, connected to nature and on a path.” All money raised will go to CEDAR Foundation, Inc., a not-for-profit organization that educates people about all aspects of eating disorders, diet and the body, and will be used specifically to provide a scholarship for those who need eating disorders therapy.
This weaving of her two passions is something familiar to Schrott. “I’ve always had the beautiful balance between the creative aspects of artwork and the creative and intellectual aspects of psychotherapy. I have never seen them as separate,” she explains.
Once they decided on the project, Schrott said the next question was how to get the pendants made. The answer, she says, was the result of “the goodness in people’s hearts.” After an e-mail blast to the community, Rabbi David Greenberg, of Temple Shaaray Tefila in Bedford, where she is a member, introduced her to Bridget Krowe, owner of Limited Unlimited Jewelers in Mt. Kisco. Krowe donated her time and effort to finding a jeweler to create the pendant and also donated boxes for the finished product.
In one year, Schrott hopes the Foundation will receive enough donations to pay for therapy for one year for one person–but she is hoping for much more. “It’s a big dream but I’m not giving up.”
Schrott’s creative talents extend to the theater. She studied with Martha Graham and the School of American Ballet.
In her 20s she performed extensively with the Jewish Repertory Theatre in NYC. Later on, Schrott performed eight shows a week to finish Hunter College and attend NYU graduate school, where she earned a Master’s Degree in Social Work and became a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW).
Another dream of Schrott’s is to become a certified yoga instructor to help patients in her psychotherapy practice. In February, she was scheduled to attend a month-long intensive program at Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health in Stockbridge, Mass. She said this is the perfect time in her life to achieve this goal, as her older daughter Elizabeth, a junior at Tufts, is studying abroad in India, and her younger daughter, Rose, is a first year student at Johns Hopkins University.
She is appreciative that her husband, Jonathan, is extremely supportive of her efforts. Schrott says she is proud that both of her daughters are confident, like the woman on the pendant, and have “learned to ride the waves in life.”
Schrott’s shelves are lined with family photos; her favorite is the one of her daughters holding hands, walking on the beach. “All I wanted was for them to love and respect each other,” she says. Yet another dream has been fulfilled.
Lori Sachare is a freelance writer and public relations consultant living in Chappaqua.