Pat Eckardt Sedgwick 1952

Lifelong Community Volunteer

“Today,” says Pat Sedgwick, recipient of this year’s Old Girls Award, “it is more difficult for young women to entertain a career in volunteering. I, on the other hand, left the University of Toronto with an honours degree in, of all things, anthropology. My professor said, ‘You are qualified to sell ribbons at Woolworth.’ No wonder I became a volunteer.”

In fact, Pat thrived at community work, taking early inspiration from her mother, who raised young Pat alone. (Pat’s father died before she was born.) “She taught me that there is more joy in giving than receiving. I’ve passed on this torch to my own children – vitai lampada tradens.”

As a testament to Pat’s accomplishments, her daughters Sarah Sedgwick Parry 1979 and Naomi Sedgwick Schafler 1983 praised her in a letter to the Old Girls Award selection committee. “When we were young,” they wrote, “Mom’s job was not merely housewife but, more importantly, a volunteer. The Cancer Society, United Way and The Big Sisters Association are a few of the places where Mom developed her talent for working with others for the common good.”

They spoke of Pat’s cherished involvement with the Canadian National Institute for the Blind: “Undoubtedly her favourite aspect of volunteering was her more direct service, driving the blind to various appointments and assisting these special friends in their daily endeavours.”

They recounted Pat’s Monday morning shifts – every other week for the past 40 years – at The Big Sisters Association Thrift Shop which, in part, funds the Toronto organization Youthlink. “Not only has she helped stock the shop with personal donations, she’s also been known to re-purchase them – ‘Who would want to part with this gorgeous bag?”‘

More recently, Pat has served on the Bishop’s Company Executive Committee. And last but not least, there are Pat’s ongoing contributions to her beloved Havergal and the Old Girls Association, currently as an active team member on the Dr. Catherine Steele Archives project. “It seems only fitting,” Naomi and Sarah concluded, “that one who shares so much of her time and love be rewarded with recognition and appreciation from an organization that she regards so highly.”

Hear, hear.

Written by Maryam Sanati 1988