As citizen volunteers go, Patty Schermer colors outside the lines. She isn't one of those rich philanthropists with oodles of time on her hands and an open checkbook. Nor is she a retiree free to complete many worthy charitable projects in Glendale. Instead she's a youngish single mother with a passion for public projects with a very busy schedule.
"I was raised in a highly volunteer family," Schermer said. "My dad had his own business (Glen-Pacific Carpets, now under different ownership). Mother was in the PTA, and both of my parents were involved in the Lions Club, which is the largest volunteer organization in the world. Mom was always volunteering to do something."
Schermer's son, Evan Schermer Jr., a junior at Glendale High School, is closing in on Eagle Scout status. Schermer has been president of the PTA twice and sits on its board at her son's school.
Edna Karinski with the nonprofit Community Foundation of the Verdugos has known Schermer since both parents served on the PTA Council when Evan was in elementary school seven years ago.
"Patty is one of those people who really want to help," Karinski said. "She's the kind of person who helps someone who has any personal issues, even though she has a ton of other issues."
One example of Schermer's personal commitment happened when parents noticed one of the students was slipping through the cracks, and counselors weren't correctly guiding the youngster through the system.
"She decided to work with that student one-on-one, and to help PTA get more involved with helping the parents," Karinski said. "Patty's a team player, she's a very good leader, and she's able to ascertain who has what good skills and to do things that work with those skills. She tries to fix problems as she sees them."
Schermer is a relative newcomer to the Glendale Assistance League, but takes great pride in the organization's many services to the city. She cites as examples the league's Thrift Alley thrift shop and its Operation School Bell, a program that provided school clothing for 500 needy children last year. Members stow socks, underwear, pants, shirts, a hooded sweatshirt and a bag of toiletries in every backpack.
Asked what motivates her nearly full-time commitment to charity work, Schermer said it is her belief that we are put on this earth to help make it a better place to live.
"I came to my conclusions about death and the afterlife, that as mortals we don't chose the timing, you just do what you can while you're here, to make life better for the people around you," Schermer said. "As corny as it sounds, I think love is the strongest force on earth. In spite of all the tragedies around us, I think people are truly concerned about their fellow man, encouraged by people. Ninety-nine of 100 people will do good things to counteract the ones who are bad. I feel blessed by having a good family, and Glendale is a great place. When you feel blessed, you have to pass it on."