For Immediate Release
Contact: Kristin Tutino, (585) 258-0253


(Rochester, New York) August 29, 2005 – As part of the Speaking of Women’s Health Conference (SWH), presented by WXXI and held at the Rochester Riverside Convention Center on Friday, September 15, 2006, WXXI will present Bernice Skirboll with the Pinny Cooke Community Service Award for her dedication to children and adults who are receiving treatment for mental illness. The annual award honors women in the community who have made it their life’s work to help those less fortunate. Thirty years ago Ms. Skirboll founded Compeer, an international, non-profit organization that helps adults and children overcome the devastating effects of mental illness, such as loneliness, low self-esteem and isolation – through friendship.

Pinny Cooke, who championed so many worthwhile causes in her lifetime, passed away on August 1, 2004. WXXI presented Mrs. Cooke’s daughter, Bess Lewis, with the first Pinny Cooke Community Service Award in 2004, and Ms. Rosa Wims was the second recipient of the award in 2005.

“I am deeply touched and honored to be this year’s recipient of the Pinny Cooke Community Service Award,” said Ms. Skirboll. “I had the pleasure of knowing Pinny when she was one of Compeer’s early board members. I always respected her deep commitment and dedication to making this community a better place. She inspired me to do all I could to build Compeer. Pinny was the perfect example of how one person can make a great difference in the lives of many.”

Ms. Skirboll currently serves as the Executive Consultant of Compeer. In 1975 she was named the Director of Adopt-A-Patient, which she radically overhauled and in 1977, the organization changed its name to Compeer. Ms. Skirboll expanded the program from Rochester into New York State, and then nationally and internationally. Today, Compeer has more than 80 affiliates around the world with nearly 5,000 volunteers serving more than 6,500 adults and children.

Ms. Skirboll has received many awards including the Monroe County Medical Society Award for dedicated service to the community and to the medical profession and the United Way Executive Director of the Year Award. She earned her Master's Degree in Community Services from the University of Rochester and was recognized in the University of Rochester Alumni Directory as one of the most noteworthy alumni who made their mark in the world. Her numerous professional presentations include the World Federal of Mental Health Congress in Melbourne, Australia and the First White House Conference on Mental Health. She has served on many boards including the International Association of Psychosocial Rehabilitation Services and Rochester Women’s Network. Ms. Skirboll has been a two-time Governor appointee to the New York State National and Community Service Council and a three-term Governor appointee to the New York State Mental Health Services Council. Ms. Skirboll recently authored a book entitled “Compeer Recovery through the Healing Power of Friends” which the University of Rochester Press published in April, 2006. The book includes heart-warming personal stories from clients and volunteers, as well as clinical perspectives. Ms. Skirboll is married to Morton Skirboll and has a son, a daughter and four grandchildren.
The SWH Conference features national speakers, health screenings, a continental breakfast, luncheon, and a luxurious gift bag valued at $150 for every attendee. Conference attendees will have the opportunity to talk with more than a dozen local health care professionals from Strong Health about their health, wellness and lifestyle. In addition, SWH will have more than 12 breakout sessions available on topics ranging from heart health, osteoporosis, migraines, tia chi and more.

SWH is presented in Rochester by WXXI, and is sponsored locally by Strong Health, Senator Joseph Robach, KeyBank, and PHA Health, Wellness and Fitness Centers with media sponsors 13 WHAM-TV, WHAM 1180 and The Drive 100.5. National sponsors include P&G, Wal-Mart, Lifetime, American Greetings, Benadryl, Listerine Antiseptic, Purell, Kellogg’s, Hanes, Schick Intuition, L’Oreal Paris, Maybelline New York, Garnier, Cadbury Schweppes Americas Beverages, Stryker Orthopeadics, and Merck.


WXXI is the essential, life-long educational media resource for the Greater Rochester area. WXXI puts the community first with programming that stimulates and expands thought, inspires the spirit, opens cultural horizons and promotes understanding of diverse community issues. Log on to for more information about our services and programs.

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