Cornerstones’ Volunteer, Patti Schule, receives Herndon Mayor’s Individual Distinguished Service Award and Fairfax County Volunteer Service Award for meeting the many day-to-day necessities of the Embry Rucker Community Shelter before they become an emergency need.
It takes a special type of volunteer to not only serve but to motivate a whole community to come alongside them and pitch in. Patti Schule is the embodiment of effectively inspiring others. Patti heard about the need for warm meals and winter supplies at the North County Hypothermia Prevention Program seven years ago and quickly got her entire church involved making dinners for 25 homeless and hungry adults once a week from December through March. Patti takes on the coordination of this effort for the congregation, and due to her organizational skills and influence has been able to find a way to take on additional dates each year as needed. Through her service in the youth group and other ministries at her church, Patti has also coordinated monthly donations of 120 bagged meals for the Embry Rucker Community Shelter; allowing those who are not at the shelter because of work or school to have a great lunch and those who drop-in for services to not go away hungry. She also recruits chefs from the congregation once a month to prepare and serve a warm dinner and breakfast to the over 70 people who call the shelter home.
Most recently Patti was the key instigator in bringing one of the roving Hypothermia Prevention programs to Floris United Methodist Church. This additional Hypothermia service is hosted by a different congregation each week and requires large scale and detailed planning and execution on the part of the hosts. Patti’s tremendous efforts led to 30 otherwise unsheltered homeless men and women having a warm bed, great meal and experiencing first-hand the compassion of their neighbors.
Beyond her efforts feeding, clothing and sheltering the homeless, Patti has taught English to adults for the past four years twice a week at Hutchison Elementary School.
Patti has impacted hundreds of county residents because she doesn’t stop at what she can do alone, but engages the compassion of others to work alongside her. Her efforts at the North County Hypothermia Prevention Program have meant that 25 individuals receive nutritious and delicious meals once a week throughout the coldest months of the year. Not only do these meals meet a practical need, they also show these often marginalized men and women that their community does care about their situation and wants to work with them to improve it. Patti’s organization of catered meals and bagged lunches at the Embry Rucker Community Shelter have meant that over 260 meals are lovingly prepared and donated each month; that’s 3,120 meals in 2013 alone. These efforts not only are a huge assistance to shelter clients and staff but are also a wonderful way to engage her fellow congregation members in a one-time event that usually leads to their participation in additional volunteer work at the shelter or elsewhere.
Through taking on the congregation-hosted Hypothermia Prevention Program, Patti enabled an additional 30 adults to access food and shelter during one of the coldest weeks in local history. This also led to over 50 volunteers from Floris United Methodist Church getting the chance to work face to face with some of the most vulnerable members of our community, leaving them with an increased desire to serve.
In her work with the adult English students at Hutchison Elementary School Patti has personally tutored over 50 individuals toward their goals of being able to fully integrate into their adopted community. The English literacy she’s given to her students not only impacts them positively, but their children’s academic performance, and entire family’s financial prospects.
Patti’s volunteer work has had an enormous impact in our community because when she identifies a need she isn’t afraid to ask others to get involved and work with her in being a part of the solution.
To meet the needs in the Fairfax Community, particularly the estimated 2,000 homeless men, women and children, it is clear that an individual working alone will be limited in impact. Patti doesn’t let daunting numbers or large scale issues get in the way of doing as much as she can, and she’s found she can do so much more by rallying hundreds of others to volunteer alongside her. Patti is selfless with her time, always willing to take on an additional date to provide bagged meals or a catered dinner, because she knows these gifts of time and resources can literally make the difference between someone going hungry and enjoying a healthy meal. Patti’s efforts for Cornerstones are predominantly behind the scenes coordinating others, so she usually doesn’t get the spotlight, accolades or even a face to face “thank you” from someone receiving a meal. Nevertheless, in her kind and humble presentation of what’s needed she continues to inspire others to serve and has made a huge and lasting impact as a result.
Read about the Fairfax County Volunteer Service Awards.
Read about our other inspiring volunteers!