Pat McKaye: The Spirit of Volunteerism

In 1972 the San Luis Obispo office for RSVP – Retired Senior Volunteer Program – opened for business to match seniors over 55 to a variety of activities. The Inn at Morro Bay hosted one of three area brunches celebrating their 40th Recognition for RSVP Volunteers of the Central Coast. San Luis Obispo County Supervisors, Senator Sam Blakeslee, and Representative Lois Capps recognized the 182,000 hours valued at $4.26M tallied in 2011 – support services rendered by senior volunteers.

Capps wrote, “What would your communities do without you?”

For example, 140 volunteers donated 13,000 hours to ten police departments; 50 volunteers visited frail elderly weekly; more than 220 helped at parks, hiking trails, museums and recreation departments; 150 individuals gave up 20,000 hours to gather, distribute or home deliver five million pounds of food.

Most volunteers say they are the true beneficiaries – and for good reason. Harvard Medical School’s Dr George Vaillant stated in 2001, “As one ages, remaining connected to life is crucial.” The RSVP website ( reflects, “Active involvement in solving community problems can stimulate positive thinking…”

RSVP Program Director, Marie Brinkmeyer, recognized volunteers with 300 to over 1,500 accumulated hours and asked why they volunteered.

Cayucan Patricia McKaye and Arroyo Grande’s Ted Hanson received the 2012 Carol Conway Spirit of Volunteerism Awards. Both emulate Conway’s legacy as an early RSVP director to model and inspire volunteers. Hanson serves at multiple locations, including Woods Humane Society, Pacific Wildlife and Veterans’ services. Cayucos Seniors’ President Betsy Watts nominated McKaye for dedicating 1,000 hours a year for 12 years as manager of the volunteers for their thrift store and senior activities’ center.

Brinkmeyer remarked, “They so take care of one another. We patterned the Good Neighbor Program after Cayucos Seniors.”

“I’m there because of the people I work with,” McKaye said. “Bonnie Allen and Ray Guillen coordinate the weekly food distribution; Mike and Doreen Cavataio pick up food from the grocery stores weekly; Pat Machen, Loretta Scholfield, Betty Hall and David Robinson organize the thrift donations so our board can donate thousands each year to our community, especially Cayucos School. Trudy Minott’s group does crafts. My receptionists keep the doors open six days a week and I especially thank my friend, Arley Robinson, who had the idea year’s ago for the thrift store.”

Northern District Volunteer of the Year, Ann Fletcher said about their Atascadero Fun Club, “Behind every successful program is a team. Volunteering comes from the heart.”

Cayucans Machen and Scholfield agreed volunteering fulfilled their lives.

Bill Pluma volunteers at ten stations and said, “I get to meet people at the top, bottom, and in between and learn something new every day.”

PostScript: Pat McKaye was my mentor and my mom. She lived life to the fullest until her last breath August 11. She continued to serve the Cayucos Seniors until the very end and they honored her royally and miss her sincerely as do I. Her birthday was February 10 and she would want us to celebrate. We would have gone to the movies. I did. I saw Daniel Day Lewis in LINCOLN. She would have loved it. Goodnight, my moon.

She walked with grace and attitude. You felt good being in her space. She breathed life into Cayucos and it smiled back and gave her joy.

She walked with grace and attitude. You felt good being in her space. She breathed life into Cayucos and it smiled back and gave her joy.

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