Remembering Pat. Chapel

“Pat. wanted people to feel good about doing good.” 

Pat. Chapel joined United Way of Champaign County in 1982 when the Voluntary Action Center, of which she was Executive Director, merged with United Way. She had a true passion for connecting people with volunteer opportunities. Pat. was an expert in the subject, editing a book featuring best practices for Volunteer Coordinators.

She also understood the importance of recognizing the contributions of volunteers, organizing an annual Volunteer Recognition Breakfast during National Volunteer Week. Organizations nominated a volunteer to attend and it was a great honor to be nominated. It was a wonderful way to acknowledge the significant impact volunteers make on an organization.

Pat. wrote a grant for United Way’s first computer in 1984 – an Apple 2E with 256 megabytes of memory. She maintained an extensive computerized database for volunteer opportunities – at its largest, the database contained 315 unique volunteer jobs. We believe it may have been the first computerized volunteer database.

Training volunteers is just as important as thanking them. Pat. was known for saying, "Nobody wants to do a bad job!" She hosted training for board directors, covering financial, succession and strategic planning. Her Board Training seminars reached dozens of local Boards and greatly improved the C-U nonprofit community.

In 1992, Pat. organized the first Make a Difference Day. The event collected supplies for seven local shelters. More than 250 groups and an estimated 40,000 people participated and recieved recognition for helping. The value of donated items was estimated to be $145,000. The project won an award for best volunteer effort in the state of Illinois.

In 1995 the Make a Difference Day event was named one of the 10 best in the nation and was recognized in USA Today. Pat. went to Washington, D.C. to be recognized.

In her retirement, Pat. was an active member of Altrusa International of Champaign-Urbana and an avid birdwatcher. She continued to volunteer with United Way, photographing our events and providing valuable insight to the staff.

Pat. passed away November 30, 2016. Her enthusiasm for volunteerism lives on at United Way. We maintain an extensive list of local volunteer opportunities at, and encourage the whole community to give back during Day of Action.

In Pat.’s memory, we encourage you to visit – get out and volunteer!