Service has been a part of International President Patsy Perkal’s life for as long as she can remember. Growing up in a small town in New Mexico, Patsy spent much of her young life watching her mother and grandmother working to improve their community. Patsy’s mother traveled the state as the President of the Junior Women’s League, and spent time serving individuals with Down syndrome, a foreshadowing of Patsy’s future service. Patsy’s grandmother was something of a legend in her community, well-known for her ceaseless service to their school, church, and town. From them, she inherited her generosity, kindness and compassion for others.
With a passion for service in her blood, Patsy set off to put her own stamp on the family tradition of making a difference. After college, she married Glenn Perkal, who has been her partner in improving the world since 1981. Little did they know when they started their family, their children would become their entrance into the world of Civitan through CiviTots. Like her mother and grandmother before her, Patsy wanted her children to grow up with deep ties to their community and an understanding of their responsibility to help those in need.
Patsy grew through the Civitan ranks, serving as Club President, district Area Director, Governor-Elect and Governor of the Great Southwest District before becoming a Regional Director. Patsy’s focus while on the International Board was bringing more awareness to the Civitan International Research Center, a cornerstone of her passion for this organization. Patsy says her dream for the future would be for the Civitan International Research Center to be as well-known as St. Jude. “If we’re doing all this incredible research right now,” she says, “just imagine what kind of breakthroughs we’ll have in 10 or 20 years!”
Patsy’s unwavering dedication and love for Civitan led her right to Reno, where she was voted in as President-Elect of Civitan International, no doubt thanks in part to her platform, speaking to the heart of many Civitans through a focus on the creed. Patsy shared her belief that a leader should always be willing to listen and speak on behalf of the members. Now that she is acting President, Patsy feels just as strongly about this as she did then, saying “I think it’s extremely important the members stay involved and we keep a dialogue open. Members are not a statistic or a number, they are a face, a voice, and a vision”. Just as she artfully led the Great Southwest District through changing times 15 years ago, she now does the same for Civitan International. Patsy knows the changes we face are not without growing pains, but she believes that growth is on the other side. She asks all Civitans to be patient and trust that leadership has carefully considered each challenge with the health and strength of Civitan in mind. Patsy stated, “With change comes challenge, with challenge comes responsibility and we have to face up to this responsibility. We’re not the Civitan of 1917 or 1950, we’re the Civitan of 2020, and I’m sure Dr. Shropshire would be very proud of where we’re going.”
If you remember anything about Patsy, remember her passion for people. She says the people are her favorite thing about Civitan because everyone she meets has a heart of gold, and is doing what they can for their communities. They are the reason she is here. Patsy says, “I’m here for the people. I’m not here for me. I’m here for Civitan.” When asked what advice she would give to all Civitans, Patsy shared, “When you speak, speak with love. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Don’t just see people as bodies at meetings, you’re looking at the souls of service. If we all live by the Civitan creed we will live a life of love and a life of service.”