Pat Jeffries is the winner of the Volunteer of the Year award.

Volunteer of Year
Pat Jeffries, Licking Memorial Health Systems

When Pat Jeffries joins an organization, he doesn’t do it for bragging rights or to burnish his resume.

Rather, the Licking County native immerses himself in the group, rolls up his sleeves and puts himself to work doing all that he can to make a difference, says Robert Montagnese, CEO of Licking Memorial Health Systems.

“My father told me a long time ago,” says Jeffries, 74, “that you have a short life and you can either pass through or you can leave a footprint and make an impact while you’re there.”

He’s chosen to leave numerous footprints through volunteer work he’s been doing for decades. It started while he worked for 38 years as director of learning and development for State Farm, continued during his two-year tenure as academic director at Central Ohio Technical College and has accelerated since his retirement at the age of 60.

“Pat has been committed to Licking County his entire life, and he truly exemplifies the spirit of the community in a giving and meaningful way,” Montagnese wrote when he nominated Jeffries as Volunteer of the Year for the 2019 Columbus CEO Healthcare Achievement Awards. “Pat has given his time and talents selflessly, helping to fulfill the mission of LMHS by working to improve the health of the community.”

Jeffries has been involved with Licking County Hospital for years, joining its development council soon after its creation in 1987 to help raise money for the hospital and serve as a conduit between the community and the health system. He and his wife, Linda, were honorary chairs of the council’s golf gala in 2010 and Jeffries led the Community Cornerstone Campaign for several years and was a chairman of the golf gala committee. He served as chairman of the hospital board for nearly a decade before joining the board of the health system, where he has been a member for eight years and recently served as chairman. “Our organization has had a lot of successes during his involvement and he’s been very important to those successes,” Montagnese says. “I’d say he’s played a crucial role.”

Among those successes: The hospital has been named one of the top 100 hospitals in the country 12 times by Truven Health Analytics and was recognized as one of the safest hospitals in the country from 2016-18. Also in 2018 the health system was named one of the 150 best places to work in healthcare. The 227-bed nonprofit hospital has served the community since 1898. The health system includes the hospital, a physician corporation and the health foundation.

Jeffries has deep ties to the hospital and to the area. He was born in the hospital’s previous building and all three of his children were born in the current hospital. Although he was offered higher-paying jobs in other communities over the years, he declined them all, choosing to remain where he grew up.

“I wanted to stay here and make a difference,” he says. “Family and happiness mean a lot more to me than being a millionaire. This is home to me, where I know a lot of people. It’s a tradeoff, but I love this community.”

Jeffries also has shared his time with numerous other community organizations, serving in leadership positions for the Licking County Chamber of Commerce board, the Newark Rotary Club, Licking County United Way, the Midland Theatre board, Central Ohio Technical College’s Business Advisory Board and Newark City Schools board. He’s also led the Licking County YMCA Board, the Private Industry Council, the Licking Knox Goodwill and Licking County Operation Feed.

For the past 16 years he’s freelanced as a management, human relations and leadership consultant.

Montagnese says Jeffries is known for his caring attitude, keen sense of humor and wit, and his relentless dedication and passion for the causes and organizations he supports. Jeffries says he’s humbled and honored by the Columbus CEO award.

“I don’t do these things for the recognition or the rewards,” he says. “I do them because they’re the right thing to do. But to have someone recognize you for the things you do, that’s really a pleasant surprise.”

Finalist

Grove City Cancer Thrift Shop, Columbus Cancer Clinic
For 49 years, proceeds from the Grove City Cancer Thrift Shop have helped cancer victims, first through the American Cancer Society and more recently through the Columbus Cancer Clinic. The independent, nonprofit store at 3684 Garden Court is open five days a week and staffed entirely by volunteers such as Betty Lewis, below, who open the store for 20 hours a week and spend many hours beyond that preparing donations and consignment items for sale. Through its efforts, which include recycling ink cartridges and working with several store rewards programs, the group has donated more than $1 million to the clinic, the oldest free cancer clinic in the United States.

Kathy Lynn Gray is a freelance writer.

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The 2019 Healthcare Achievement Awards are Thursday, March 28, at The Estate at New Albany. Tickets are on sale now.