Pat Dooley has been named Nelson’s 2021 Citizen of the Year.
“It’s a real honour. I really appreciate the recognition and I appreciate the people that nominated me and I certainly don’t do what I do for the recognition but I must admit that it was very touching,” Dooley said in an interview with Vista Radio.
Dooley says she was influenced at a very young age by parents who “were very adamant that you should take care of your family and do something in your community to make it better.”
She also remembers how Kaslo rallied around her family after her sister was seriously hurt in a car crash in 1967. She was home alone at 16 years old with five siblings.
“We literally didn’t know what to do and word spread around our community and before you knew it this couple that was known to our family walked down the walkway of our house and the woman held her arms out and I walked into them and from that moment on the community literally just took care of our family for days as my parents went back and forth to the hospital,” she explained.
Dooley is involved in many local causes since returning to Nelson in 1975. She started volunteering with the Kinsmen Club and the Kinettes Club.
“I can’t think of a year I haven’t been sort of involved in some sort of volunteer effort,” she said.
Dooley focuses on causes around health and education because she says keeping those sectors strong defines a democratic society.
Dooley was proud to be part of a group of people raising $1.5 million to bring a CT scanner to the Kootenay Lake Hospital.
She’s also proud of the work around Nelson and Area Friends of the Family and the Columbia Basin Alliance for Literacy.
“Volunteerism is a value and when you value something you put your money where your mouth is and fit it into your life.”
As for balancing her volunteer work and her personal life, Dooley says she makes time for family, friends and recreation while looking at “how can I spend a portion of my time every week trying to do something that makes, not just Nelson, but our province and our world better.”
She says Nelson has a solid base of volunteers and is hopeful they will be re-energized this year as we come out of the pandemic.