Pat Singer making masks in her sewing room.jpeg

Pat Singer makes masks that she donates to National Council of Jewish Women to disperse to those in need in her sewing room at her Orange home.

Pat Singer has always had one foot in the working world and another firmly planted in her volunteer interests.

When she retired completely in 2004, the Orange resident became fully dedicated to helping the community – most recently repurposing her sewing and knitting skills to make over 1,000 masks for the National Council of Jewish Women to disburse into the community amid the COVID-19 pandemic. She has also made 163 fleece vests for the University Hospitals Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital pediatric epilepsy monitoring unit program, an endeavor through the Women of Fairmount Temple at Anshe Chesed Fairmount Temple in Beachwood, of which she is a board member of the women’s group. Also through NCJW, she makes pillows for breast cancer patients. She also volunteers as a front desk worker at The Gathering Place.

Before the pandemic, she also volunteered in the library at Fairmount Temple and is hoping to do it again soon, she told the Cleveland Jewish News. She also used to read to kids in the Cleveland Metropolitan School District.

CJN: How did you start to get involved?

Singer: I grew up in a family where my mother was one of three ladies, all who were very involved in Pioneer Women, which is now NA’AMAT. They were very involved, as were all of my cousins. I really had no choice but to follow them. They were good role models and that’s how I became involved. Since I never worked full time, I always had time to do something. I used to do Reader’s Theater for NCJW and also have docent experience at the Maltz Museum of Jewish Heritage. I would schedule my volunteering around my work schedule, and it was something to do. I felt gratification when I finished what I was doing. I don’t know how the recipients felt but for me, it was a reward. It’s about doing for others because I can.

CJN: What made you choose to volunteer in retirement?

Singer: It gave me things to do. I was younger when I retired, and what am I going to do? Sit around the house all day? That was not something that appealed to me. Our children are adults, so I didn’t have to be home. Also, as one ages, interests change and as my interests changed and maybe my skills for sewing have improved, I found this was something I really enjoyed. And then COVID came along and made other decisions quite easy, like I could no longer volunteer in person. So, I was able to fill my time by making vests and masks. That fulfilled my feelings and responsibilities to the world.

CJN: How do you find the time to get it all done?

Singer: It sounds like a lot but I don’t know. Somehow, if it’s a nice day, I’ll be outside walking and come in when I’m done. While it’s still a nice day, I’m looking to eat everything in my kitchen due to boredom. So, if I can go down to my sewing room and be productive down there, it helps me.

CJN: What is your favorite part about volunteering?

Singer: I meet new people, I can be helpful to people and I love working with children. I find that extremely gratifying – their honesty and their willingness to learn and be your friend. It is hard because schools aren’t letting people in at this point and I’m also a morning person. I would always do my volunteering out of the house in the morning first and then come home in the afternoons. It is just gratifying, and I feel like I’m possibly making a difference. These endeavors have touched my life and I hope I’ve done the same to the people I help.

CJN: How does volunteering fit into your Jewish identity? Why is it important to you?

Singer: Because we as Jews are very social action people, I think that as a volunteer, I am doing social action or tikkun olam. It’s that simple. It is who I am, and I am very proud of being a Jew and proud of being a woman who can contribute something in a very small way.

As she continues through her retirement, Singer said she and her husband are eager to get back to traveling.

“It’s been a good two years since we have and it gets harder and harder to pack a suitcase,” she said.

But simply put, she is just hoping for a healthy, long life with her family.

“I’d like to continue to volunteer and for us to stay healthy so we can grow older together,” she said. “I don’t see my life as different from anyone else’s and my needs and wants are the same as others. You want to stay well, do things with your spouse and be a contributing member of society.”

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