A Lifetime Devoted to Improving Our Communities
By Eleanor J. Osborne
Sister Pat McKittrick believes that true well being extends beyond hospital walls. Her work in the Health Ministries Program – apart of Community Health Improvement – is in many respects a precursor to the concepts behind population health, and unquestionably an invaluable source of support for many in our communities.
Sister Pat started the Health Ministries/Faith in Action Program in 1994. Her work, which has taken on many forms over the years, is focused on improving people’s physical, social, emotional, spiritual and psychological health by strengthening existing community partnerships and making them self-sustaining, both in Winooski and surrounding areas.
Much of that work has been carried out by what is now called the Winooski Peace Initiative, a group of organizations including UVM Medical Center departments, local churches, businesses, schools, other city agencies and more to work together to make improvements in the lives of our community members. Work made possible by this group includes:
• Ensuring that people have access to healthy foods through programs like the Summer Lunch and Activity Program, which provides food and activities for school children whose families might not otherwise be able to afford them
• Raising awareness of diversity and cultural issues in Winooski schools and the community through programs that include sponsoring the reading and sharing inspirational books in our schools
• Promoting safety and non-violence through programs like a free self-defense class for women; and establishment of a multi-disciplinary committee to address education and awareness around the subject of vulnerable adults, some of whom may be victims of abuse Sister Pat says she comes by this work naturally through a blend of nature and nurture: raised in Jersey City, her father was social justice-minded, and she saw in her neighborhood plenty of people who had less. Trough her training as a nurse, then joining a convent in Montreal, she traveled to places around the world where, again, she gained a perspective on what it means to “have” – and “have not.”
“That perspective has fueled my work,” she says. “I’ve seen firsthand how, even though there’s a scale of 1-12, not everything is a 12. But we have to come together to do something when the scale starts tipping towards a 12.”
She’s always looking for ways to be creative in addressing the needs of our community. She serves
on the Board of the Winooski Food Shelf.
She has been involved in implementing innovative programs like “soul collage,” an exercise in which
individuals can post images that they find meaningful to share as they feel comfortable.
“It helps people forget the problems of everyday life,” she says, “and reconnects us all to what’s important.”
And for Sister Pat, what’s most important is our community.
“That’s what drives everything,” she says. “How can we come together as a community to be our best?
Sister Pat McKittrick Receives Women’s Center’s 2019 Outstanding Social Justice Activist Award!
Outstanding Social Justice Activist Award in recognition of her lifetime devoted to serving the undeserved, and the many programs aimed at ending oppression which she has helped bring to fruition.
Every year, the Women’s Center hosts the Women’s Award Banquet. This celebration is an opportunity to recognize the contributions and activism of those in our community working to dismantle systems of oppression.
This award is given to a person who has worked in antisexist endeavors and who has drawn connections between various communities to end multiple forms of oppression. This award recognizes that various forms of oppression (e.g. sexism, ableism, racism, classism, heterosexism, religious discrimination) are connected and support one another. Tis year’s Awards Banquet was held on Tuesday, March 19th, from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. in the Silver Maple Ballroom at the Davis Center.
Congratulations and THANK YOU, Sister Pat, for all you do to make our community a better place.