Many successful people can point to one life-changing event. Patty Avery can point to two.
The first was in grade school, when a teacher told Patty and her classmates they had a responsibility to share their gifts. For Patty, the message resonated. Aided by what she calls “a risk taking gene,” she went on to spend 15 years as a missionary, co-founding a home for teenage street girls in São Paulo, Brazil.
The second experience took place after she returned to her home state of Indiana and moved to Evansville in 1999. She attended a speech by then First Lady of Indiana Judy O’Bannon and was moved by the message. “Mrs. O’Bannon’s vision of volunteerism challenged me to uncover my best gifts and put them to work here at home,” Patty said, “It started me on a new path of service.”
Today Patty stands as one of Indiana’s most dedicated volunteers. She helped found and is event director of Girls in Bloom, an annual event to help 5th through 8th grade girls in the Evansville area build healthy self-esteem through the arts. Patty also co-chairs the Vanderburgh County Homeless Youth Council, which led the way in asking the state to consider legislation to improve access to services for homeless and foster youth.
With over 400 hours of volunteer service in 2007 alone, Patty’s commitment to service is truly remarkable. Active in the fight against cancer through The American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life, she also serves as Indiana’s lead ambassador for the ACS’ sister advocacy organization, The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network. She also assists a local effort supporting organizations working with families and individuals impacted by AIDS
“I don’t recharge my batteries by watching TV,” she explained. “I recharge by working with other people to end homelessness, by striving to create a brighter future for young girls. Making a difference in my community is such a privilege, and that energizes me.”
Cynthia Smith, director of Evansville’s Youth Service Bureau, is Patty’s co-chair on the Homeless Youth Council. She says she draws inspiration from Patty’s “wealth of energy.” “Patty has inspired me and taught me so much, both personally and professionally,” she said. “She’s the connector – the one who helps pull together people who want to make a difference.”
Old National Bancorp President and CEO Bob Jones echoes Cynthia’s sentiments. “Patty embodies the true meaning and spirit of our company values,” he said. “She has embraced our legacy of community leadership and written her own amazing and inspiring chapter.