After a 47-year career in sales, Moorefield Twp. resident Pat Hayes couldn’t sit still at the beginning of his retirement in 2011.
Five years ago, Hayes, 75, began volunteering at the Springfield Regional Medical Center, driving a golf cart in the parking lot to pick up visitors and drop them off at the main entrance — even through the cold winter months.
“I was used to being around people all the time,” he said. “When I first retired I had a hard time of filling that void of being around people. I tried to find things where I would still be around people, to try to help them and at the same time, they’re helping me.”
He’s also spent 17 years as the chaplain at the Clark County Juvenile Detention Center and volunteers at the Berea Bible Church on Derr Road.
For his efforts volunteering and helping youth in the community, Hayes was named an unsung hero by the Springfield News-Sun this holiday season. He was nominated by his friend Marty Rastatter.
“He just does so many things for the community,” Rastatter said.
Hayes originally wanted to volunteer at the Clark County Jail, but later opted to speak with the youth at the detention center.
“I wanted to keep kids from getting to the jail side,” he said. “I get more out of it than the juveniles do.”
He spends about an hour-and-a-half each Tuesday working with youth in the detention center, discussing how they would like their life to change.
“I’ve never had one left who didn’t want to change,” he said. “It eventually leads to me being able to tell them what I believe will help them change and that’s trusting Jesus Christ and getting the Lord in their life.”
He often runs into some of those children who have changed but there’s others he has talked to multiple times, Hayes said.
“I’m a believer that they’re not bad kids, they’re just making bad decisions like all of us did when we were that age,” he said. “I’m just trying to get them to the point where they have another tool to try to not come back the sixth, seventh, eighth or 10th time.”
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It’s rewarding for Hayes to help children understand they don’t have to be caught up in a lifestyle that’s going to be that way forever.
“Some of them lose hope but that’s because of the environment they’re in,” he said. “So I try to encourage them not to give up just because of where they are in life right now.”
At the hospital, Hayes drove the cart about two to three hours per week once a week in the parking lot for about five years but recently received new duties.
“This time of the year, it got too cold for me to be doing that kind of work,” he said.
A few weeks ago, Hayes was reassigned to the Springfield Regional Cancer Center, where he’ll start on Dec. 4.
“You have to be a sounding board for people,” he said. “I just try to be an open ear for people. If they want to talk, I’m there … It’s very rewarding because it’s a people thing.”
At the church, Hayes will make coffee for visitors before Bible studies and church service, he said. In the past, Hayes taught Bible study to junior and senior high school students, said Hayes, a Marine Corps veteran who retired from Rhoades Paper Box Co. in 2011.
“I still try to stay as active as I can,” he said.
The volunteering also benefits his wife, Carolyn Hayes said.
“She’s happy that I get out of the house a few days a week,” he joked.
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About this series
This is the second in the Springfield News-Sun four-part series about Unsung Heroes in our community. The News-Sun asked readers to nominate people from their communities who go above and beyond to help others but rarely receive recognition for their work. The series will continued next month as part of the News-Sun’s Christmas holiday coverage.