Volunteer Story: Mary Pat Clasen

This week we’re profiling dedicated VIM volunteer Mary Pat Clasen.

Mary Pat is originally from the Midwest, where she grew up in Chicago, went to school in Minnesota, and raised her own family in Wisconsin. After she and her husband Tom’s four children graduated high school, the couple moved to Sisters, at least part-time. The two often also worked on projects that took them around the world—nothing new for this globe-trotter with a big heart! 

After getting her master’s degree in linguistics, Mary Pat spent most of her professional life as an educator, often traveling around the world to serve others. She has been a teacher at her local high school in Wisconsin (Spanish and German) and at the University of Wisconsin. She visited India, where she taught Dalit University students. She spent time in Rwanda to support the transition in the official language from French to English. And she traveled to Guatemala where she ran educational programming for children during their semester and summer breaks.  

For over 15 years she ran a language exchange with US students from Wisconsin and children at a children’s home in Guatemala. Back in the US since 2009, she has worked with Teach for America, tutored at an innovative high school for minority students, and has supported Burmese Rohinga refugees working for their citizenship.

Mary Pat first heard about VIM and began getting involved in 2018 after reading about the need for volunteer interpreters in the newspaper. We are lucky that at the beginning of the pandemic, Mary Pat and her husband chose to stay in Sisters full time and become more involved in interpretation support for VIM. Mary Pat said she was grateful for the connection to VIM during the nonprofit and to be of service during the isolation. 

Mary Pat said many wonderful thoughts come to mind when she thinks about the team and volunteers at VIM. 

She admires the dignity that each person who needs treatment at VIM is given in all their medical interactions. She is humbled by the gratitude expressed by the patients. She said the integrity of the providers and staff is inspiring. And she loves that she feels so welcomed when she’s at the clinic or making calls to patients.  

Finally, she applauds VIM for its important work here in Central Oregon and is grateful to be able to be a part this incredibly impactful community work!