“Our lives are divided into thirds,” Howell said. “The first third of our life we’re born, we learn who we are and we get our education.”
The second third is made up of job, family, home and our spouse, she said.
“In the third part, we retire and we give back to all those who have touched our lives in those first two-thirds of our lives,” Howell said.
She retired from working with fundraising and volunteers at Hosparus. In retirement, she started watching a grandchild, but when that grandchild began school, Howell wanted something more to do. She decided to volunteer.
The first place she volunteered was at Hardin Memorial Hospital. Her sister volunteered at the hopital through RSVP and the hospital was one of the options given to Howell to volunteer through RSVP. She’s been a volunteer for nine years.
In the beginning, she worked at the escort desk for five years. Then, she started having lunch once a week with other volunteers and Hans Marsen suggested Howell start working in the auxiliary gift shop. It’s that friendship that also pulled her into leadership in the organization.
Marsen became president but Howell said she wanted nothing to do with becoming an officer. But she was on the nominating committee and the person voted vice president resigned and Howell became vice president.
Then, Marsen was diagnosed with cancer and, reluctantly, Howell stepped into the president’s position after he died.
She served 18 months as president and a new president will be installed this week. As president, she also was part of the Hardin Memorial Health Foundation.
Howell continues to work in the gift shop with her husband, George, and will help whenever the new leadership needs her.
The hospital’s Director of Volunteer Services Kevin Hilton said Howell is a “strong leader” who brought positive changes to the group.
“She has been a very hands-on president and is happy to serve wherever needed,” he said. “Even though our bylaws won’t allow her to serve as auxiliary president more than two consecutive terms, I know she will continue to be an active member within the auxiliary board.”
Howell also volunteers for other organizations.
She is an active member at Northside Baptist Church.
“There’s no such thing as a non-serving Christian; if you’re a church member you serve,” she said.
Howell is over the greeter ministry, on the stewardship team and on the directory team. This fall she will help with Mom’s Morning Out.
Howell also can be found volunteering as an usher at the Hardin County School’s Performing Arts Center. She got involved there because of the way the programs at the PAC mentor students.
“We’re working with the youth who are the future,” Howell said.
Diane Hafer, secretary at the PAC, who closely works with the volunteers, called Howell a joy.
“Even though she is quite a busy lady being involved with many organizations, she always is willing to help out at the PAC and happy to fill in should we be in a pinch for volunteers,” Hafer said. “We love Ms. Pat.”
Howell traded presidency of the HMH Auxiliary for president of the Elizabethtown Women’s Club. She said the group is smaller than the auxiliary and doesn’t meet as often. It will still free her up to do other things. She steps into that role in September.
Howell keeps volunteering because she said she’s in pretty good health and a year from now she might not be. So Howell does what she can while she can.
Volunteering at the hospital makes her appreciate her good health.
“I’m reminded every day of my health because I see people pass by that are going through a lot of medical issues,” she said. Another reason she keeps volunteering are the friends she makes she otherwise would not have known.
“You get to know people and become friends,” she said. “Our paths would have never crossed outside of volunteering.”