Patrick’s Helping Hands
While Patrick Shifflett was a usual teenager in most ways, sometimes fighting with his brothers or hanging out with friends instead of doing homework, he had an unusually large heart when it came to helping people. He noticed the old and the needy, and wanted to help them even if he didn’t know exactly what that help should be. When he rode in the car with his Mom, he would often see an elderly neighbor shuffling around in his yard, tending to his lawn. He always told his mom, “We should help him.” With a carload full of boys and places to be, Lily would tell Patrick that they’d probably scare the old man if they stopped to talk to him. When Patrick died in June 2016, the Shifflett family struggled to understand the tragedy. What was Patrick’s purpose? The family started a non-profit foundation, The Patrick Shifflett Foundation, to help people in their community and to offer scholarships at Clarksburg and Damascus High Schools in Patrick’s name. But the thing that Patrick’s parents kept hearing in their heads was Patrick saying he just wanted to help people. Walter Shifflett was driving by the neighbor’s house one day and saw the old man outside. He stopped and asked the man if he could tell him a story. He told him about his son, Patrick, and how much Patrick wanted to help others. Walter asked if his family could come rake leaves at his house. Of course, the old man was wary. He said he doesn’t rake leaves until the day after Thanksgiving. Walter said that would be fine. The old man said he goes to a lcal turkey farm where he has volunteered for years in the morning and wouldn’t be home until later. Again, Walter said that was fine, that his family will be raking when he got back. Even after Walter had driven away, the old man went to ask another neighbor if he knew of the family, just to make sure this wasn’t a scam. Early morning on the day after Thanksgiving, Walter and Lily Shifflett, with sons Jamie, Steven and Nick, went to the neighbor’s house to rake leaves. It’s a large lot and the family was still working hard when the old man came back from the turkey farm. He goes by DW and has lived in the house since 1957. He worked side-by-side with the Shifflett family until the yard was done. The family went home, feeling tired but good.
A few days later, DW came to the door of the Shifflett’s house. He brought them cookies and brownies and other sweets he had made. He gruffly told Walter, “I don’t eat that crap they sell in the stores.” And as he gave them the goodies he had made, tears streamed down his face. He thanked the Shifflett family for helping him. But as Walter Shifflett says, “That was the most rewarding thing I’ve ever done.”
DW is now a house hold name and a great friend to the Shifflett Family. They have raked his leaves for the past few years the day after Thanksgiving and have made this a giving tradition. They like to refer to this friendship with DW as the beginning of Patrick’s Helping Hands from heaven.
Patrick continues to inspire those who knew him with his generous spirit and his desire to help others. The Patrick Shifflett Foundation continues this tradition of “Just Helping People.”
On November 28th, 2019, In the tradition of Patrick’s Helping Hands, The Shifflett Family raked the leaves.