Manor Moments

Volunteer Spotlight: Pat O’Neill

April 2024

Volunteer Spotlight: Pat O’Neill
Giving is Living

As part of National Volunteer Recognition Week, which is held April 21-27, 2024, we will be spotlighting a volunteer each day. Cornwall Manor is proud to recognize 352 volunteers who dedicated their time and talents to Cornwall Manor throughout 2023, contributing 23,821 hours to our community.

Cornwall Manor Resident Pat O’Neill remembers that her parents were always active volunteers. Her mother was a Red Cross volunteer and her father was involved in various service clubs. They both served as Air Raid Wardens during World War II.

Pat’s volunteer beginnings began in her church as her parents were very involved in the community. She continued to volunteer through high school, college, during her career and now in retirement. She helped her mother teach Vacation Bible School at Church.

In high school, Pat got involved in service clubs and student council. In college, at Drew University in Madison, New Jersey, she was part of Drew Eds, a women’s organization, which provided women with opportunities to influence life on campus.

Her Early Childhood Education degree with certification in preschool led to Pat teaching at private and public schools and early learning centers, teaching preschool for 25 years and moving into administration the last few years.

Pat married a Methodist minister who served in seven different churches throughout his career. John and Pat had three children, so naturally, Pat got involved in a variety of church and school activities including Sunday School, Vacation Bible School the parent-teacher association, homeroom mother, volunteered in the school library, made cupcakes for classroom parties, just to name a few duties. She also was involved in Meals on Wheels, volunteered at local hospital in the outpatient surgery wing where families would sit and wait while a loved one was in surgery.

In the early 1990s, Pat had the privilege to develop and direct the SPARK Program at Bethlehem Area School District. SPARK or Special Programs for At Risk Kids was a full day program for three- and four-year old children with socio-economic issues such as English as a Second Language, teenage parents, illness in the home or any life issue that would affect their cognitive development. A similar program, Head Start, promotes the school readiness of children from birth to age five from low-income families by enhancing their cognitive, social and emotional development. SPARK served a population that Head Start didn’t. Pat retired from the Bethlehem Area School District in 1995.

The O’Neills moved to Cornwall Manor in December 2001 and quickly immersed themselves in the Cornwall Manor community through numerous volunteer roles. Pat served as Cornwall Manor Society President from 2012-2014, chaired the Public Relations and Nominating Committees, worked in the Manor Shoppe in various roles since 2002 and has served on the 65th, 70th and 75th Anniversary Committees. Additionally, she has been an advocate for Cornwall Manor’s ministry by supporting several initiatives including benevolent care and the endowment fund, the scholarship fund and the health center and Corson Hall Personal Care building projects. Pat recalls that her most rewarding experience at Cornwall Manor was being part of the Health Center campaign. The end result (a newly constructed 96-bed skilled nursing facility) was important and beneficial. Cornwall Manor needed a new health center and the response from the community was so enthusiastic.

She has also served on the Resident Associations Resident Representatives, City Ministries, Chapel Choir, Bell Choir. She is an active member of P.E.O., a Philanthropic Education Organization which supports women’s higher education through grants and loans. Given Pat’s extensive career in education, the work that P.E.O. does is very important to her.

Volunteering is as important for the volunteer than the person receiving the services. When working, you feel fulfilled. After retirement, that’s taken away, so volunteering provided Pat with the connections, interaction and engagement that she had while working.

“We are all here for a reason,” Pat shares. “Everyone should experience volunteering and reap the benefits for themselves.” At 92, Pat has had an extensive involvement in many different volunteer jobs and we are very grateful to have her as part of Cornwall Manor. Our community is a better place because of Pat.