When George Bush started talking about the Thousand Points of Light, he may well have had Patricia McKinley '74 in mind.
McKinley, who graduated with the College's first full-time class of women in 1974, calls herself a professional volunteer.
“I'm fortunate that I don't need to work for money to support my family, and most nonprofit organizations are desperate these
days for good volunteers, people who will take on a responsibility and stick with it,” McKinley says from her home in Cheshire, Conn.
McKinley divides her volunteer time among with the Hartford College for Women (HCW), a 300student school that is now affiliated with the University of Hartford; the United Way; and Hartford's Catholic Archdiocese. In each, she has become a regional leader.
McKinley began her work at the Hartford College for Women twenty-five years ago when she earned an associate degree before transferring to Union for her junior and senior years. After earning her B.A., McKinley returned to the Hartford college to help coordinate extracurricular activities and supervise the more than sixty women who lived on campus.
McKinley went on to earn a master's degree in higher education from Harvard in 1983. Now that she is the chairwoman of the Board of Trustees at HCW as well as a member of the University of Hartford's Board of Regents, she relies on her educational training and her experiences as a student to help foster a sense of community at the school she serves.
“I try to make sure HCW is an equal player with the eight other schools at the University of Hartford,” says McKinley, who also keeps her eye on the financial issues that confront the college and helps make sure HCW remains fiscally sound. “I'm always figuring out how the college can be a strong voice for women's education.”
McKinley also tries to be a strong voice for volunteering. That goal has helped McKinley earn a spot on the board of directors for the United Way
of the Central Naugutuck Valley. It also helped make her the honoree at a recent 300-person United Way dinner, where she was given the Community Volunteer award for the year's outstanding volunteer in the area.
McKinley's work for the United Way has focused on the organization's recent efforts to recruit chief executive officers to organize company-wide fundraising drives. Since her husband
is a doctor, McKinley is responsible for targeting medical professionals in Hartford and other areas of central Connecticut.
For McKinley, volunteering is more than just a nice thing to do with some spare time. As a Catholic Christian, she sees it as a duty and one of the major focuses in her life, especially since fewer people have the time to volunteer these days.
“I think people are more reluctant to take on responsible volunteer positions and help with planning and organization,” she says. “With all the downsizing in business, people are working harder. And women are working more than they used to now, too. President Clinton has encouraged giving for the simple joy of serving, which is great, but it's getting harder and harder to find folks who can take on one more thing in their lives.”
McKinley says she has “had the blessing” of being involved with planning for Hartford's Archdiocese, which includes 223 parishes. She helps organize Small Christian Communities-local groups that foster the development of parishes in small communities and provide a forum for members to discuss the challenges of life and faith.
She has also written several chapters in the book Quest, a discussion-group guidebook put out by the Archdiocese, which helps people bring religion into their everyday lives. The book
provides weekly reflections and comments on the scriptures as well as topics for discussion.
“It doesn't do any good to know about Jesus unless you're going to try to change what you do in life with regards to faith,” McKinley says. “I try to show how you can approach your life in a renewed fashion.”