Volunteer Spotlight: Patti Ann Unst
Patti Ann Ust has been a House Volunteer at Mary’s Place by the Sea for over six years. She first learned of our mission through a longtime friend who had breast cancer, and was a guest of Mary’s Place. Patti Ann began volunteering her time on Saturdays and Sundays.
When Patti Ann first started volunteering, she had trepidation and wondered if she would be the right fit for the house. But she quickly realized it would be life-changing to volunteer at a place that served women who showed an incredible amount of strength and courage. Their spirits influenced Patti Ann in a way that changed her perspective. Patti Ann has long since found her groove with the guests of Mary’s Place.
Two years after she began volunteering, Patti Ann decided to retire from her 17-year position as a District Manager for Russell Stover Candies. When she retired, she chose to volunteer every Tuesday and Thursday at Mary’s Place, as it would allow her to meet the guests when they arrived on Tuesday and see them again before they departed on Thursday. This provides our guests with a special opportunity to see a friendly, familiar face that greeted them two days earlier.
Patti Ann has seen the hesitation in some of the guests who are visiting for the first time and she is able to put them at ease. When the guests come through the door, Patti Ann and the other house volunteers encourage them to surrender their regular responsibilities while they are at Mary’s Place. The tone is set for their stay, as the volunteers help them get acclimated in their suites, and show them to their services.
One of Patti Ann’s favorite experiences was in meeting a very young woman who arrived very shy, quiet, and hesitant about being at Mary’s Place. Patti Ann remembers that when she returned to Mary’s Place two days later, the woman knew everyone’s name at the breakfast table. She was busy sharing stories and exchanging phone numbers when her mother arrived to pick her up. Patti Ann said to the young woman’s mother: “You aren’t going to believe that this is the same person you dropped off here on Tuesday”. The mother walked into the dining room where her daughter was sitting with all of the other guests, and her daughter responded joyfully, “Hey Mom, I’m not really ready to go yet”. Her mother walked out of the room and burst into tears of relief, and happiness for her daughter’s experience.
Patti Ann feels that she has gained more understanding and compassion from her role at Mary’s Place. Coming from a background of management, with a constant pressure to produce, Patti Ann enjoys the relaxed atmosphere at Mary’s Place, which she says has influenced her personality in a positive way.
We are grateful to Patti Ann for her dedication to our mission and to all of the volunteers like her who truly make Mary’s Place what it is today!