Unsung Heroes: Patrick Keefe and Doug and Patty Kissinger[Part_1]
Patrick Keefe, deacon with St. Mary's Catholic Church in West Plains, Missouri, was nominated as an Unsung Hero for the work he does for the Salvation Army and the local homeless shelter, as well as comforting the sick and terminally ill.
Doug and Patty Kissinger of Ozark, Missouri, were nominated as Unsung Heroes for helping local charities, working with the youth in their area, and teaching their own five children how to "give back" to the community.
Today's Unsung Hero has a contagious laugh and a very humble heart.
Pat Keefe is a deacon at St. Mary's Catholic Church in West Plains, but spends his time with the sick and the dying, as well as raising money for the less fortunate.
One thing Pat is especially known for is organizing the Salvation Army Bell Ringing campaign.
In the five years since Pat has taken charge of the charity, the number of bell-ringers have doubled and the donations have risen from $5,000 to $27,000.
"For West Plains, a small town, 27,000 dollars is a lot of money. This is, without a doubt, the most generous, giving community in the world I think. They're really, really good," Keefe says.
Vicki Elmore works with Pat at the Samaritan Outreach Homeless Shelter in West Plains, where Pat serves on the board. She says he gives everything he has into the bell-rining.
"He's not only on the board of the Salvation Army bell ringing, he basically is the salvation army bell ringing campaign by himself," Elmore says. "Because, he does all the sign-up for the bell-ringers, collects the money and gets it to the bank, makes sure the signs are out, does the publicity. And usually, that's something a committee does. But he takes it on himself."
She says she can always count on Pat to pick up his cell phone, even in the middle of the night if a family is stranded or if someone needs food. His entire life, she says, devoted to serving others.
One of Pat's many services is his work as a hospital chaplain, comforting the sick and their families.
(Sound: Car door and keys.)
As we get out at the hospital, Pat tells me today he's here to pray with an 87-year-old woman who's going in for surgery in a few minutes. When she sees Pat come in, her face lights up. He says the Lord's Prayer with her.
(Sound: "And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil..."
A few minutes later, she is wheeled off into the perating theater.
"Vocations are strange," Pat says. "You know, I taught for 29 years. I was a coach and a teacher. When I was in my twenties, if someone would have told me I would have a ministry to the sick and the dying and the destitute, I would have shrugged that off. Because I'd say, 'That's not gonna be me.' And this is what I am. And I love it."
Moore: What is it about it that touches you, that drives you?
Keefe: It's probably the blessing I get from being with those who are sick, and those who are dying. I really believe there is no greater priveledge than to be with someone who is sick, or who is dying.
Moore: What do you say to someone who's dying?
Keefe: First, you have to give them permission to die. Last week there was a lady who had been in the ICU for three weeks. And I walked up to the daughter and asked her, 'Have you told guys told her it's okay to die?' And she looked at me kind of strangely and said, 'No.' And I said, 'You need to let her know it's okay to die and to go home with the Lord.' So she went and had a talk with her mom at about 10:30 in the morning, and she died around 4:30 in the afternoon. People will hang on to be with their loved ones. But when the loved ones say to them, 'Mom, it's okay to go home,' they let go. And they go home sooner.
Pat laughed when I asked him if he considered himself heroic.
"I'm a guy that God has directed in a way, and I do what He's given me the gifts to do. And I really love it. I'm not a hero. (laughing) I'm just not a hero."
He says he's not a hero, but to that 87-year-old woman, he was that day.
Pat Keefe of West Plains, an Unsung Hero for serving the less fortunate through the Salvation Army and Samaritan Outreach Homeless Shelter, and for his role in comforting the sick and terminally ill.
Reporting from West Plains, I'm Jennifer Moore.