“Life’s most persistent and urgent question is: ‘What are you doing for others?'” -Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Sheila Patterson was stunned when she learned she was receiving the Martin Luther King Jr. Service Award from Jackson Community College.
“I asked why me? Most people who receive this award have been active in their careers and communities for years, and I’m just getting started,” she said.
Patterson has worked at Consumers Energy for 11 years. One to always stay busy; she had been feeling a bit worn down when she got the phone call. However, the recognition that her work was noticed was enough to re-energize her.
“I was brought up to believe that you help those less fortunate than you,” Patterson said. “We do good for others. When I do get tired, I am rewarded by looking at the lives I have touched.”
And help she does. She currently serves as the Vice President of the Michigan chapter of the American Association of Blacks in Energy. She chair’s the scholarship committee and is the co-chair of the national scholarship committee. The organization assists high school seniors interested in pursuing the fields of science, technology, engineering and math. She also serves on the Jackson Community College (JCC) Board of Trustees and volunteers as a Sisters of Strength mentor and member of the Juneteenth Advisory Committee at JCC.
She got her start in community service nearly 25 years ago as a Junior Achievement classroom volunteer. Since then, she also has served on the Jackson Public School Board, worked with The Salvation Army, Family Services and Children’s Aid, Jackson Parks and Recreation Board, Jackson’s City Service Commission and the NAACP Executive Committee.
“I just want to see everyone have the same opportunities I had,” she said. “It may be as simple as being a resource for people who may not know what other options are out there.”
Patterson was raised in Jackson and attended Lumen Christi High School and earned her Bachelors and Masters of Business Administration (MBA) from Spring Arbor University.
As an employee, Patterson is grateful for the company’s community outreach efforts.
“That money we gave out with the 125th anniversary grants really re-energized Michigan. With the grant to Frost Elementary in Jackson, the community service involvement has blossomed and flourished from that blessing,” she said.
Patterson is known for recruiting co-workers for the community projects she enjoys.
“I’ve gotten a lot of people involved over the years, some probably even thank me,” she said with a laugh.
As for whether Patterson ever sees herself leaving Jackson, she simply replied, “I don’t see myself anywhere else. I’m planted here.”
Learn more about Martin Luther King, Jr. Day and how you can serve in Michigan.