Pat Bobker grew up working from age 9 in the family General Store in the Pocono Mountains: full-time summer hours plus helping raise 3 younger siblings (the home was adjacent to the store). She became a regularly-published writer at age 15 and was awarded Journalist of the Year, going on to graduate at the top of her class (founder and past president of the UMA Honor’s Association Program – which continues today – 20 years later). She continued over the years to publish hundreds of feature and cover articles in national and regional magazines, on the environment, people, business and law. Later becoming a Maine Certified Educator (K-8) with Highly Qualified Status, she dedicated years to education and is presently signing on to teach college humanities as a private tutor. For the past 10 years, Pat Bobker has dedicated her career to executive-level nonprofit development, especially helping marginalized populations. She lives in Topsham Maine, is Head Chef at Mid Coast Hunger Prevention. In the interim, Pat teaches college humanities as a professional tutor, and continues to write when time permits. Pat lives with her husband, dog Benji, and a son in college. All are avid four-season outdoor enthusiasts.
Who has been a role model to you and why?
My son, Max, has been the most impactful role model to me and many others. His impeccable calm, soothing, introspective, brilliant and classy manner of understanding human beings – and responding so uniquely – is a rare combination that over the years has often been complimented by people of all ages. We ground each other and always remind each other of our respective role in the universe . . . even as we are discovering where we are most ought to be at that precise moment in time.
How do you maintain a solid work life balance?
I’m an early riser who starts the day with a regimen that includes 10 minutes of meditation/contemplation. Being high energy, I limit caffeine to 1 cup/day and eat very healthy. I get fresh air, maintain enduring friendships, I take Zumba class, Tai Chi and Pool Fitness weekly. I have a strong network of female friends. I and my husband remain social with neighbors, friends, colleagues and the community at large. We have a radio program called “Environment Today” that runs on 8 stations from Cambridge, Mass through Maine, out to Nova Scotia – for thousands of listeners and with positive replies. I keep a disciplined schedule that balances my workweek with time off.
What traits do you possess that makes a successful leader?
I am an icon of diplomacy and positive thinking. I trust, so I am trusted. I value others and they value me. I lead by example; and when it’s the hardest to work, I work the hardest. Then I sing or hum and those people around me join in or smile, so I know it’s worth it.
How do you motivate others?
I’m widely known in many circles for being a motivating force among volunteers, students, family, friends and neighbors. I keep a bright and cheerful attitude no matter what my worries or concerns may be, I’m formally trained in motivating volunteers/co-workers. I quickly identify strengths and help people utilize those strengths to feel as good about themselves as possible. It makes for symbiotic relationships.
What has been the hardest obstacle you’ve overcome?
While being a working single mother for 14 years, up until a few years ago. During those years, while holding down a mortgage, running a business, and being the man and the woman of the household, I suffered severe pain and discomfort from hip dysplasia (a degenerative bone condition). When the replacement finally happened, it was a botched surgery and I couldn’t walk without a cane and deep limp for two years. Nevertheless, I made adaptions, so my son and I maintained our large organic garden, and spending much quality time outdoors hiking, canoeing, and exploring hidden tidal coves.
What is one piece of advice that you have never forgotten?
“As you go through life, remember that not everyone can be a ball of fire,” by an aunt when I was about 7 years old. I am a high energy person with very high standards to this day.
What is your biggest accomplishment?
Volunteering at the BP oil spill in Hopedale, LA for a week on funds I donated to the cause. When the news showed the crisis was getting worse and not better, during nesting season, I became the first out-of-state “Oiled Wildlife Transport Volunteer.” I helped relocate oil-soaked pelicans from the boats to the wash houses. When I was flying to Louisiana to do this, I was very uncertain and worried about what the scene would be like (and rightfully so); I asked the kind, Canadian nurse sitting on the plane next to me, “what do you say to a huge, magnificent creature drenched inside and out with black oil, dying, with babies left behind out there?” She said, “just sing. they understand song.’ So, into the blue, terrified eyes of these animals fighting for their lives, I decided to sing True Colors. Those blue eyes never left mine during the whole song. . . “you with the sad eyes, don’t be discouraged. I see your true colors come shining through. . . ” 50% of the birds that made it to the wash houses will die. 100% of those not captured and brought to the houses will die.
Flying home, I felt weary and disenchanted about the massive disorder and chaos BP had allowed the operations to play out. But the volunteers and local fishermen were amazing. It was a tiny “drop in the ocean” but I feel deep pride in my efforts.
Outside of work, what defines you as a person?
“Lighting up the room whenever I come in,” as was penned by a former employer at MaineShare. Community leadership. Over the last 3 decades, I’ve consistently served my community in functions ranging from the Chair of a school board of directors, Rotary, Chamber of Commerce, and many committees, boards and hands-on volunteer efforts. I am known for my positivity and kind mannerisms.
Explain the proudest day of your professional life.
When I performed a speaking engagement that resulted in the development of a new volunteer who came forward and then wrote the attached letter of recommendation after working with me for a few years at College Guild.