Born 75 years ago in Ayrshire, Scotland, Pat Shapiro was taught at a young age to go to The Salvation Army for help. "My father always told me to go to The Salvation Army for a cup of tea and a biscuit. The Red Cross charged for that, but not The Salvation Army," she remembers. "And because of that, we were always allowed to cross the street and put money in the kettle. Always."
Now, Pat finds herself "across the pond", still giving to The Salvation Army. For the past 10 years here in East Stroudsburg, she has been volunteering in our Food Pantry, Ringing the Bell at the same red kettle she was taught to donate to as a child, assisting with our weekly Senior program and doing just about anything within her power to help people.
"It's really addictive," she says with a smile that lights up the room. "I'm just drawn to helping people."
Because of Pat's ingrained spirit of serving people, it will come as no surprise that back in Scotland, Pat was an RFN (Registered Fever Nurse), an RGN (Registered General Nurse) and an RMN (Registered Maternal Nurse). But her heart truly soared when she was an RFN, which enabled her to nurse infectious diseases.
"I loved the round the clock nursing. The kind where I would take care of patients for 24 hours at a time", she remembers. "It allowed me to get to know the person I was taking care of," she clarified.
Of course that is what she would love best. To know Pat is to know that her level of compassion knows no bounds and that there isn't anything she wouldn't do for anybody.
"She is so caring and will do anything you ask her," says Lewann Stewart, Assistant Food Pantry/Volunteer Director. "Even after she had a stroke, she insisted on coming back just two months after. She couldn't stay away."
Pat came to the United States 53 years ago. She met and married Harold, had daughter Ramona and settled in Nutley, NJ where the Shapiro family ran a liquor store and check cashing business. It was Harold's dream to retire to the Pocono Mountains, and after his passing, Pat decided to make his dream come true, calling East Stroudsburg home for the past 14 years.
"I stayed at The Salvation Army shelter 10 years ago," Pat reminisces. "And if that doesn't change the way you see things, I don’t know what does. You have to find a way to always laugh." And believe you me; when Pat laughs, her eyes twinkle, her face beams and her entire spirit radiates pure joy.
Gloria Loew, Senior Program Director, agrees. "Pat is so compassionate. She just loves people. And I love to hear her talk about Scotland. She has an interesting perspective."
"I'm so glad I met her," says fellow volunteer Helen Dunning. "Pat is my friend. She has a great sense of humor and is always making me laugh. I can't understand what she says half the time but she doesn't mind repeating herself," Helen says laughing. "We're just good together."
We feel truly blessed by Pat's presence and see the impact her kindness, compassion and joy makes on the faces of our clients. With just one smile, she is able to make even the most frightened person feel immediately at ease.
"The first time I met Pat was about 10 minutes after I started my first day of work at The Salvation Army," says Cari Friend, Executive Secretary. "I had first day jitters and felt pretty anxious. Well, Pat came right over to me, took my hand and welcomed me as if we were long lost friends. I will never forget that. Ever."
We are so humbled and grateful to be the beneficiary of Pat's lifelong mission of serving people. Together, we are "Doing the Most Good" in Monroe County!