Wednesday, November 6th, 2013
An army wife married at 17, Patricia Kelly spent the majority of her adult life working full-time and raising three children. First stationed at Fort Bragg in North Carolina and then in Howard County, Maryland, the Kelly family struggled to make ends meet and Pat often worked two jobs while juggling the demands of raising a family. Her husband, Douglas, served a tour in Vietnam and, while he was deployed, Pat was not only mother to their young children; she was also the sole bread-winner in the household.
She began her career assisting her family’s catering business while also serving as a domestic worker. After moving to Howard County – where Pat was born in the 1950s – Pat took a job as a cook in the classified rockets and weaponry division of the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory. Several years later, her mother fell ill and Pat began to care for her as well, often doing double-duty as caregiver to an aging parent and growing children. Pat ultimately spent 25 years of her career in the restaurant and hotel kitchen industry, serving in many ways as a business manager as well. After her children had grown, Pat decided to transition to a career in retail, accepting a job in the catalogue department at Sears and receiving multiple promotions along the way as a result of her work ethic, trustworthiness, and diligence. These are traits that have come to define Patricia Kelly at Sarah’s Circle; always one to lend a hand to her neighbors and friends, she exemplifies the spirit of our community.
Not content to retire after her successful career in retail and banking came to an end, she opted to harness her caregiver’s tendencies into a later-in-life stint as a home healthcare worker. Working for both private clients and in the institutional arena, she eventually retired from The Arc, an organization serving intellectually and physically disabled individuals, in the late 2000s. Characteristic of Pat, she reminds us that she only retired because of an ankle injury and two subsequent surgeries that made it impossible to stand on her feet for hours upon hours each day.
Pat moved to Sarah’s Circle in 2011 and quickly integrated herself into the community. A fixture at virtually every social event, educational seminar, field trip, and activity, Pat’s big smile and welcoming nature makes newcomers feel at ease as they navigate the Sarah’s Circle day program. Pat was one of the first members of our poetry workshop and performed her own work before a live audience on September 26, 2013, the first time she had ever performed in person. To mark the occasion, her daughter and her sister surprised her by driving from Baltimore to DC just to hear her poetry reading.
In Pat’s own words: “My whole outlook on life is different since moving to Sarah’s Circle. I like Sarah’s Circle as it is a great community with great people. Social gatherings and nice program, game days, and yoga. You can really take care of yourself and just ‘be’ here.”