Volunteer Spotlight: Pat King
"A lot of people who come into the gift shop – I don’t know how I do this – but I sort of get the feeling I know they want to talk," Pat King said. "I'll just casually say something, and they'll take off. I'll tell them, 'this is what I went through.' If it's a man, I say, 'the best thing you can do right now is it's all about her. Don't take it personally, you have to do everything to make her feel good and make her feel comfortable.'"
Pat, a volunteer for GBMC for the past five years, draws on personal experience to give advice and comfort to anyone who walks in the door. His wife, Nancy, lost her battle with breast cancer six years ago. And the great care she received was the impetus for his return to volunteer and give back.
"I came to GBMC to volunteer in the Infusion Center and there were no openings at the time," Pat said. "Through the course of the interview, I said I worked part-time over the years for Eddie Bauer and LL Bean, so a light went off in her (former Director of Volunteer Services) head."
Sometime after beginning his volunteerism, Pat became chairman of the gift shop – handling schedules and serving as the liaison to the GBMC Volunteer Auxiliary Board. That willingness to help and take on any tasks handed to him has been a characteristic of Pat's long before GBMC.
Pat worked most of his career at ADP, a payroll processing company, first in computer operations and then later in risk management before retiring two days before his 65th birthday. But his job before that – while more short-lived – gave him an even bigger prize.
"Nancy and I both worked for, back then it was the Savings Bank of Baltimore, and we spoke on the phone for a year before we ever saw one another," Pat said. "Back then the bank had their own lunchroom where they prepared meals for the main office. We were over there having lunch one day and someone said, 'O hey, that's Nancy.' So I went over and introduced myself and all of a sudden, after about a year, we were engaged.
"The first time we ever went out, I took her to Rock State Park. It was a bank holiday. I said, 'We're going mountain climbing.' And she looked at me like, 'What?' Then the second date, I figured we survived that, so I said, 'You want to try the movies this time?' and she said, 'Yea, that sounds a little safer.'"
Pat and Nancy were married for 45 years, had two sons, and eventually two grandchildren, which is where Pat spends his free time when away from GBMC. Both grandchildren are athletes and honor students which he credits to his daughter-in-law. He has a particularly close relationship with his granddaughter, Catherine, and speaks with her often.
"For grandfather and granddaughter, Catherine and I get along," Pat said. "They gave her recommendations for her classes for her first year of high school and she texted me her schedule and she got three honors classes. I said, 'Catherine! All right!'"
In addition to his GBMC volunteer work, he also helped a team of people raise money for and construct Angel Park in Perry Hall, where Pat has lived his whole life.
Kelli and Andy Szczybor lost their 18-month-old son, Ryan, to leukemia and harbored a dream to build a "tot lot" in his memory. That tot lot grew to a full-scale, three-part playground for kids of all ages and abilities next to the Perry Hall Library on Honeygo Blvd. As a long-standing family in the community, other families like them got behind the idea and chipped in.
It is true to Pat's personality to be involved in the endeavor – giving back because of love for community and family.