A couple of weeks ago I was privileged to attend Sail Chicago's annual Post-Season Awards Dinner and Celebration at theColumbia Yacht (see article below). While it was great to get back together with all my summer sailing buddies, for me the heart of the evening was watching as our Chairman, Chris Schuler gave out the awards for outstanding service to some of our member-volunteers who'd gone well beyond the minimum necessary to fulfill their annual service requirement. My heart swelled with gratitude for the countless hours of service they have given to help make Sail Chicago such a success.
One awardee really stood out for me, perhaps because we've worked closely together on several projects over the years and I've had a chance to view her dedication to Sail Chicago "up close and personal." By her own admission, Pat Webster started off her time in Sail Chicago as a rather timid sailor. She wasn't quite sure that she'd enjoy being out on the big lake in a small boat, but once there, she found it exhilarating. With a career in the Naperville public school system and free summers, she had lots of opportunity to sail, and she took advantage of it, becoming an accomplished skipper on all classes of our small keelboat fleet.
Pat also became involved with other aspects of Sail Chicago, starting with our winter maintenance program. But she really found her niche as Social Program Coordinator. As she says, "I love to throw a good party!" and believe me, she really knows how. She's held this position for as long as I can remember, having great summer picnics for members and friends in the sun and rain, planning parties that range from simple get-togethers at local pubs, to the recent Post-Season extravaganza, to organizing events like our Annual Meeting. And while I know she's occasionally been frustrated trying to find volunteers to help her, she's always come through in the end.
Pat's also served in a leadership capacity on the Sail Chicago Board for several years, where I've worked with her on several Board committees and had the greatest opportunity to watch her in action. She was always thoughtful and thorough, doing her "homework," and coming to meetings well-prepared. She also never hesitated to be outspoken for what she believed in. While we didn't always agree on issues that came up, I found her to be a good listener, and she never let differing opinions get in the way of personal relationships.
This year has been a big year for Pat. She took early retirement from the Naperville public school system, and she will be retiring from her position as Social Program Coordinator with Sail Chicago. This winter she'll be spending a couple of months in Florida, "...to see if I like the climate." I'm sure she will.
Thanks, Pat, for going "above and beyond" in your service to Sail Chicago. You are the epitome of the volunteer spirit that makes Sail Chicago thrive as a community of dedicated sailors here in our great metropolis of Chicago!