“It was one of the best things I was ever involved with,” Eggers says of her experience. “It was infectious. We all motivated one another, we motivated an entire school. All the kids that came along and helped, they’d go back to school and talk about it to others and then they’d want to get involved and help too.”
Indeed, the roster of volunteers grew as the days passed and more often than not, the new volunteers knew of our community’s efforts through Eggers. When asked to name a highlight of the relief drive, she says that there were many, but that the toy drive really stood out.
“The children were the hardest hit by the storm and the generosity of the people from this community was unbelievable,” she says, reminiscing about the morning when she led a convoy of five cars and vans completely stuffed with children’s toys to the Rockaways. “That was really special.”
Eggers came to Woodhaven with her husband John from Jackson Heights (with a detour through Chicago) in 1986. She found herself volunteering soon after she arrived when she noticed a lot of teenagers on her block.
“They were being raised by single moms and they had a lot of time on their hands, which often led to trouble,” she recalled.
She began speaking with them and building relationships, and soon she and her husband got them all involved with the Police Athletic League. They organized softball games and took part in the rebuilding of the Youth Council and the creation of a job bank for young adults.
“It was very rewarding,” Eggers says of her experience. “To this day, some of these kids who are now in their 30s will ring our doorbell just to say hi.”
Eggers was also involved in a local security effort called the “Tri-Corner Civilian Patrol,” named after the triangular area they concentrated on: the area between Elderts Lane, Rockaway Boulevard and Atlantic Avenue. With over 40 volunteers, the effort was very successful, once catching a burglar who was responsible for 17 other burglaries in and around our community.
But Eggers' life was about to take a different direction.
“As my kids were getting older, I started to volunteer with the school and I soon decided that I wanted to move into education,” she said. She went back to school and after stints at St. Clement Pope Parish in Jamaica and then St. Benedict in Ozone Park, she applied for an opening at St. Thomas the Apostle and was soon teaching Social Studies in 5th through 8th Grades.
That was nine years ago. Today, Eggers teaches 2nd graders and says the best part of her job is watching her students grow up.
“This is such a small school and kids always come back to say hi,” she said. “And when the younger children see the older kids come back, it gives them a sense of belonging to the same community; and they all want to be like them when they grow up.”
Eggers leveraged that sense of belonging when she led the production of a video about the history of our community and the children’s place in it. That project, which was done alongside our Woodhaven Historical Society, is just the start of many that Eggers hopes to see accomplished in the future.
It is because of these skills and because of her enthusiasm that Eggers will be honored as Woodhaven’s Woman of the Year by the Woodhaven Residents’ Block Association this September 20 at Joe Abbracciamento. Tickets are $65 and include a four-course meal (free beer and wine for the adults). Call the WRBA at (718) 296-3735 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
It is a wonderful event which gives us all a chance to celebrate our community and the special people, like Patti, that we call friends and neighbors.