Erie Native Chris Tombaugh has used her personal tragedy to help others deal with the pain and heartache that comes with grief.
The Remarkable Women candidate has a long list of accomplishments over the years.
She also took in her niece and nephew after their parents died within a year of each other.
Chris Tombaugh’s husband died when she was just 37-years-old. She said her journey of helping others began soon after that while turning her tragedy into triumph for others.
“When my husband died unexpectedly, I was young and it really was an impact on my life. What am I going to do with the rest of my life? And I really started getting involved in helping people that were grieving,” said Chris Tombaugh, Remarkable Women Candidate.
Just a couple of months after being widowed, she went to work at the Erie City Mission, working in the women’s shelter for about five years.
“I knew the process that you have to go through and grief is a journey, and I think that it was important to me because I had such strong women in my life from the time I was little. My mother, my grandparents, teachers, just strong women that inspired me,” said Tombaugh.
Her work at the mission prepared her for what came next as the Director of the Mercy Center for Women.
For 19 years she has helped grieving women get their lives back on track.
“And just seeing that and watching that each person going through that journey from sadness, to pain, to hope and healing was just something that just touches your heart,” said Tombaugh.
Tombaugh provided a home for her niece and nephew after her young family members lost both of their parents within a year.
“Knowing that they had a safe and secure place really helped them and I would have never have not taken them in. They needed a place with out either of their parents. That’s just who I am,” said Tombaugh.
In 2008 she started a workware program that helps women find work clothes.
“It’s more than just giving the clothes, but it’s another form of being able to encourage women that you can change your life,” said Tombaugh.
While technically retired now, her big heart can’t stop serving others. She is currently working part time at Erie Dawn helping low income women and children with transitional housing.