Penn Hills officials, police donate to scholarship honoring 2011 flood victim

Patrick Varine
| Wednesday, Jan. 23, 2013, 9:01 p.m.

Debra Pavlock and her Penn Hills School District co-workers miss Kim Griffith every day, and they are hoping to perpetuate her memory by helping to educate future generations of nurses.

Pavlock and other members of the district's nursing staff accepted $1,800 in donations on Tuesday from the Municipality of Penn Hills, its municipal engineer's firm and its police charity, Police Helping People Daily, for a scholarship fund in memory of Griffith.

Griffith, a Penn Hills School District nursing staff member and Plum resident, died with her daughters Brenna, 12, and Mikaela, 8, in an August 2011 flash flood along Washington Boulevard, Highland Park. Oakmont resident Mary Saflin also was killed in the flood, which prompted the installation of safety and warning measures along the road.

Pavlock, who chairs the district's nursing department, said it took time to get the fund organized.

“We'd been talking about doing something since Kim passed away,” she said. “But there was so much fundraising going on at the time (for the family) and we were very caught up in supporting one another and the family. We kind of put it on the backburner.”

In the fall, Pavlock and others began talking anew. They organized a bake sale on Election Day, and with its proceeds and the municipal and police donations, the fund now totals about $3,000. Pavlock said it will allow the scholarship committee, which will include Griffith's husband Chris, to present scholarships to students this and next year.

Besides being nursing students, awardees will be people “who we feel exemplify Kim's characteristics and her drive as a nurse,” she said.

Pavlock said she was overwhelmed by the lasting support the community has shown.

“The further out you are from a tragedy happening, the more people lose focus or get involved in other things,” she said. “So for us to have that response was really wonderful.”

The scholarship committee will work with the school district guidance office to identify potential recipients, and will begin interviewing students this spring. Pavlock said they hope to give awards on senior night at the end of the school year.

“Kim was a special person, and we're grateful to honor her memory,” she said.

Patrick Varine is an editor for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7845 or

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