Service above self is personal mission for Lee

Headshot: Patrick Lee.

For Patrick Lee, it’s important to focus on one phrase: Service above self.

Patrick’s healthcare experiences have spanned 40 years – and have given him a wealth of exposure to all facets of what it takes to lead a healthcare organization. Patrick now serves as the executive director for Services for Independent Living and leads an organization that endeavors empower people with disabilities, seniors, and veterans to maximize their independence and promote a barrier-free community

While his role as chair for the Caring Heart and Hands of Columbia board is a volunteer role, his experiences have been crucial as the organization moves from a “start-up nonprofit” (a term he often uses) toward an operating and functioning end-of-life care home serving mid-Missourians.

To get to know Patrick a little better, here’s a snippet from an interview with him about his experiences and his passion for Caring Heart and Hands.

You spent years in healthcare administration. How does CHHC fit into the mold when you consider your professional passions?  

Healthcare is a people-caring-for-people business and it takes tremendous heart and passion to be successful.  End-of-life care is just a more passionate form of this, and the social model, end-of-life, personal care home brings marvelous innovation to that passionate caring.

How did you get involved with the CHHC board? 

I am actively involved in the Rotary Club. My club sponsor from 20 years ago was approached by Jackie and Dorreen, CHHC co-founders, to serve on the Board. While he didn’t have time, he said “I know just the guy” and recommended me.

They reached out to me. I had dinner with them. And I was sold!

You now serve as Executive Director of Services for Independent Living. Do you see a connection between the work there and with CHHC?

There is a connection because everyone will reach an end-of-life stage, and most would prefer to pass in a home versus an institutional setting.  That applies equally to SIL consumers who are individuals with disabilities, the elderly, and veterans.

Both organizations are charitable in nature with major operations components, which I find most interesting.

What short-term vision do you have for CHHC as the Board president? Where do you want to see the org in 1-3 years?  

The short-term goal is to get our home open and operating effectively and efficiently early next year, providing high-quality care and service that is second to none!

The longer team goal is to expand our capacity beyond two guests. If the Missouri regulations do not evolve for us to serve more than two in one home, then we will develop a modular approach to operating multiple homes in a way that harnesses scale economies. The more central Missourians we can serve them better! 

So … work, work, work! What do you do for fun? How do you enjoy yourself? What brings you joy?  

Activities with my granddaughters and just being with my granddaughters!  When those girls aren’t melting my heart, I enjoy woodworking and just spending time with my family. I continue to spend time with Rotary and other service projects because I find tremendous satisfaction in “service above self.”

Committed to the cause

How did you first hear about Caring Hearts and Hands of Columbia? 

I first heard about CHHC through my work at New Chapter Coaching. I met with co-founder Doreen Rardin to see how we could be of service. After better understanding their needs and learning about the organization, mission, and their Board of Directors, I was hooked!

What draws you to the organization’s mission? 

I am a board-certified music therapist and have a history of working with adults in hospice, senior living facilities, and hospitals. I’ve also had multiple experiences with loved ones at the end of their lives. With these experiences, I have a huge passion for helping those at end-of-life and making it as pleasant of an experience as possible.  

When you talk to others about CHHC, what resonates with others?

We all experience this and most likely experience it with a family member or close friend. It is something everyone has in common. I believe we all can understand how important it is and how necessary it is to have an organization that is intentionally working to improve the end-of-life experience for all people despite income and ability. 

What do you do? You’re a coach — but what kinds of things do you do? 

I am a nonprofit consultant. I work with nonprofit organizations to develop a plan for their future that will leverage their strengths and result in maximum impact for the people they serve. I also work closely with teams and individuals to strengthen their culture, cultivate trust, improve employee engagement, integrate a strengths-based approach, and more.

Where are you from? 

I am originally from Minnesota and have a slight northern accent to prove it if you listen closely.  I was raised in Independence, MO, and received my undergraduate degree at Drury University. We currently live in Columbia, MO, and I am pursuing an MBA.

Tell me about your family. 

After seven years together, I married my high school sweetheart, Eric Swanson, in June of 2019. We met in music and theatre, both of which remain important parts of our lives. We live with our very spoiled dogs: Bagel the Beagle and Stella our seven-pound guard dog. We are close with our families who mostly all live in Independence, MO.