Bella Skolnick, class of 1933

Bella Skolnik grew up in Rhode Island and attended high school in Woonsocket, where she graduated at the top of her class. She attended Pembroke College in 1929, majoring in English and studying psychology extensively. In 1933, during the last month of her time at Pembroke, she married Bob Krovitz. After her graduation, she was hired by the state of Rhode Island to investigate the situation of handicapped children, who at the time were barred from public school and were often hidden by their parents because of a lack of social support. She became a private tutor and social worker for handicapped children, a job which galvanized her to activism for the children she was working with. Active in her son’s education, she became president of the PTA before becoming chairman of the committee on exceptional children in the Providence Council of Parents and Teachers in 1945. She organized a Rhode Island chapter of the Easter Seal Agency, a national organization that provides services, education, outreach, and advocacy on behalf of people with disabilities. She raised money and educated the community, working with teachers to recognize invisible disabilities and working on national legislation to make public buildings accessible for people with disabilities. Skolnick moved to Massachusetts, where she began working with the Council on Aging, and built public housing and devised educational programs for the elderly. She remained active within the handicapped and elderly communities throughout her life, always responding to issues within the communities and working with the state to fix them. When her husband’s health declined, they moved to Florida, where she maintained the great network of activists she cultivated throughout her career.