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Pat Vomhof: Making A House A Home

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What does a home economics teacher do after retirement? If she’s Pat Vomhof, she just continues to make her house a home – for everyone around her.

At 86, Pat has become a sort of one-women Home Ec. Department for Village Shalom in Overland Park, Kansas, the retirement community where she and her husband Jim moved to an assisted-living apartment in April 2012. Both had retired from careers in education: Jim as a college administrator and accreditation consultant, Pat as a high-school home economics teacher of 20 years. The couple celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary in July 2012, but sadly, Jim passed away just a few months later. Pat took comfort in her new community by finding ways to keep busy while helping others – just as she has done throughout her life.

Pat Vomhof crochets “granny squares” to assemble into lap robes for Village Shalom’s skilled-nursing residents.

She began by making “lap robes” for some of the skilled-nursing residents. “I noticed that many of the people in wheelchairs seemed to always feel chilled. They wrapped up in whatever they could find,” Pat said. So she started crocheting “granny squares” that she could piece together into colorful, cozy creations of all sizes. They have taken shape as small table toppers, larger blankets, and shawls. “I’ve given away about 40 of them so far,” she reckons.

A master of many domestic arts, Pat also loves to bake. Each weekend, she makes cookie dough at the nearby home of her daughter, Sue Courtney. They transport batches of dough to Village Shalom and freeze them until the following Friday, when Pat and her assisted-living neighbor Janet Baird bake cookies for the residents of the memory-care area. It’s a delicious highlight of everyone’s week.

Pat (standing) and her neighbor Janet Baird devote every Friday afternoon to baking cookies for Village Shalom’s memory-care residents.

Also an avid gardener and flower lover, Pat taught a flower-arranging class last fall at Village Shalom University, the retirement community’s weeklong intensive course offering for residents and staff. She frequently volunteers her talents by making floral centerpieces for special events around the campus.

Pat likes to reminisce about growing up on a dairy farm in Minnesota, traveling extensively around the world with Jim, and raising the couple’s seven children. “They all learned to cook and sew,” she remarked. “Even the boys.”

But mostly, Pat looks forward to each new day and how many lives she can brighten with her warm, homey touch. “Wherever I am is my favorite place,” she said. “I’m happiest being right here.”