February 2023 Member Spotlight – Pat Scheid

Pat Scheid grew up in a large Catholic family in rural Western Michigan. She spent lots of time in the library because of her love of reading.  It became an escape where she could learn about other people and places outside of her little home town. Upon leaving home for college, she left Catholicism behind, but not her curiosity about the world. After college she joined the Peace Corps and was given a piece of advice from a Peace Corps alumnus that has stuck with her: “If you hope to save anyone in Africa, don’t do it; but if your purpose is to learn about people and cultures (and yourself), then do it.” Her Peace Corps experience in Niger was both an adventure and a journey of self-discovery. 

After Peace Corps, Pat came to the DC area in the mid-80s as a young, single mom starting a federal job at USDA.  A friend told her about Unitarian-Universalism and she found that it aligned with her values and was a place where her son, Doula, could get a well-rounded (and non-dogmatic) religious education.  She felt welcomed at UUCSS from the start and has been a member for over 35 years.  She enjoyed new friends and events like Catoctin.  Pat has always loved the outdoors, walking and hiking and cooking all of which helped make Catoctin a great experience.  It was at Catoctin that she first sang in a UU choir, and then later joined the regular Sunday choir.  Pat has worn many hats at UUCSS – on the Sunday support team, organizing meals at Catoctin, as a board member, and helping with the Annual Budget Drive and the Capital Campaign. 

Pat spent the next 30+ years of her career working with international charitable and humanitarian organizations. The work was deeply meaningful building relationships with people from around the world and of different faiths. A work opportunity took her to the San Francisco Bay Area for 8 years, but she returned to Maryland in the summer of 2021.

Her involvement over the years with programs and people from Afghanistan and Pakistan compelled her to want to “do something positive” after the Taliban took control of Kabul.  In September 2021, she volunteered with a refugee resettlement agency to welcome refugee families and help them upon of their arrival in the U.S.  Within UUCSS she worked with Rev. Kristin and others to create the Refugee Resettlement Task Force, which for the past year has supported the Thina family in Silver Spring.

Pat is currently going through a career transition.  As much as she has loved international work, there was a downside – time away from family, friends and community.  She has a few things to say about volunteering, “I’ve found it necessary to adjust my commitments over time depending on what else was going on in my life.  It’s OK to pace yourself at UUCSS – do what feels right and brings meaning. We can all grant each other the grace of embracing whatever time and talent others can give, doing our best to seek balance at different stages of our lives”.