Give Back Where You Start

Patty King is an Organ Donor
Published date

Unrelenting spirit of giving drives Volunteer of the Year

Patricia “Patty” King ’77 is spirited by helping others. Whether it’s running, racing, volunteering, leading, hiring, mentoring or otherwise, she does all she can to support her career field, her alma mater and the people she serves through both.

Her infectious energy, enthusiasm and commitment toward making a difference in others’ lives all played a part in her receiving SUNY Morrisville’s Volunteer of the Year Award.  

“In her service to Morrisville, Patty is the epitome of a great volunteer,” said SUNY Morrisville President David Rogers in his remarks at the first-ever President’s Recognition Dinner in May. “She is at EVERYTHING. She DOES everything. She does not say no. We can only assume she does the same for other organizations because she is also the busiest person we have ever met.’’

King earned her first of several degrees in nursing from Morrisville in 1977 and has gone on to have a long and rewarding career in health care. In both her work and private life, she gives abundantly, cheerfully and from the heart.

“The reason I've been so giving to Morrisville is I think it's always important to give back where you start,’’ King said. “Morrisville gave me the tools and skills to provide me with the foundation to have a rewarding nursing career. It was all because of my training there that I was able to walk out and get a job and have a wonderful career all my life.’’

King said her decision to become a nurse and her unrelenting spirit of giving come from the same place. Both of her parents died from cancer. After losing her mother at age 12 and father at 19, she knew she wanted a profession that would allow her to care for and help others.

After earning her nursing degree from Morrisville, King moved to Houston to take a position at MD Anderson Cancer Center, providing compassionate, specialized nursing care to children with cancer. She loved her work but disliked the weather and eventually returned to Upstate New York. While working at the former Rose Hospital in Rome, King earned her bachelor’s degree in nursing from SUNY Institute of Technology at Utica/Rome (now SUNY Polytechnic Institute).

She worked as a rehabilitation case manager for a company in Syracuse, New York, before launching her own disability case management company and supervising a team of nurses, nurse practitioners and LMSW social workers, covering a wide swath of the state (hiring quite a few Morrisville nursing grads in the process).

After “retiring” that company, she joined the trauma team at Upstate University Hospital in Syracuse and stayed there until the commute from her home in Sherrill, New York, to Syracuse became too much to bear during the winter months. She joined the executive team at Rome Memorial Hospital as director of continuum care in 2014 and was promoted to assistant vice president of continuum care a year later.

“It’s a very demanding job,’’ King said.

Still, the obligations of her work never prevent her from showing up at Morrisville. The Volunteer of the Year Award she received this spring recognizes her 12 years as a member of the college’s Alumni Advisory Board.

In July, she took the helm as the board’s president, leading efforts to engage alumni through events, connect with students and provide support to the college. She also serves on the College Foundation Board, which focuses on raising philanthropic dollars for the college, managing those funds and directing their use. 

Theresa Kevorkian, vice president for institutional advancement and executive director of the Morrisville College Foundation, marvels at King’s commitment to the college and its students.

“There is nothing that Patty does not volunteer for,’’ Kevorkian said. “We started two new programs this year, the Career Connect Program and the Student Alumni Mentor Program, and she volunteered for both immediately. She served as a panelist at our second Career Connect panel and she is so determined that all of these students get jobs that she came armed with job applications for each of them.’’

In her professional life, King was honored to receive this year’s Claire Murray Best Practices Award from the New York Organization of Nurse Executives. The Genesis Group of the Mohawk Valley recognized her contributions to healthcare in the region, as Outstanding Healthcare Professional, as well. She also is a past recipient of the Outstanding National Rehabilitation Nurse of the Year Award from the International Association of Rehabilitation Professionals.

"At the hospital, we are always looking to hire Morrisville students. When I see students here, I always introduce myself to them and say, ‘You picked the best career. You're going to be able to work anywhere and be independent.’”  
- Patty King, ’77.

Ask King what she does in her leisure time and the answers are running, a bit of travel — and more volunteer work. She picked up running as a hobby at age 50 and is actively involved in events, including running 14 Boilermaker Road Races and participating in 11 Rides for Missing Children. She’s completed five marathons and as a proponent of organ donation, heads up the organ donation team at Rome Memorial Hospital. But for her, all roads lead back to Morrisville.

“I just think it's so important to give back to your roots,’’ said King. “Anything I can do to help a nursing student or to help another Morrisville student in their career is the reason I participate and have volunteered through the years. So many alumni have left Morrisville and achieved such wonderful things. I just love to hear their stories about what they've done and accomplished.’’