Grateful & Giving Back

Pat Riley (middle) stands with fellow volunteers at a Dodger's game last spring where he was collecting money for tornado victims of the South.

Not only is Pat Riley the go-to guy for all things related to the Social Services arm of The Salvation Army Corps in Pasadena, he’s the go-to guy for inspiration.

You see, his passion for his work is so apparent that he was the first person mentioned by our friends in the west when we said we were looking for “stars”: Salvation Army employees deserving a spotlight for their good work.

Pat’s genuine passion for serving others stems from an empathy he developed years ago following his own personal transformation. Escaping a 22-year span of alcohol and drug abuse was, in his words, “by the grace of God”.

“Although I went through a secular program to recover, I had an internship during college for a year at The Salvation Army’s Adult Rehabilitation Center. God arranged that opportunity for me.”

Learning more of The Salvation Army’s work throughout the year, one of William Booth’s founding beliefs stuck with him. “I liked William Booth’s purpose; how can you help someone in spiritual need unless you meet their physical needs first?”

Now as a full-time, cherished employee of the Pasadena Corps, Pat’s carrying out William Booth’s vision as he meets both the physical and spiritual needs of Salvation Army beneficiaries each day.

“For a lot of the people I work with everyday, their story is the same as mine. I believe the main qualification of a good counselor is having unconditional acceptance of the person and not the sin.”

As the Director of Social Services, his average day is jam-packed running several different social service programs. He facilitates the Corps’ Open Air Ministry – a program that feeds the homeless with food, devotions and prayer; runs the Cherished Memories of Grace Prom Dress Event that provides disadvantaged high school female graduates with the opportunity to attend their prom; and coordinates the annual Homeless Connect Day – an event that offers hundreds of homeless individuals everything from haircuts to medical services all under one roof.

He also takes part in larger, long-term projects to help end cyclical poverty.

“I’m in the streets quite a bit working with other agencies and conducting studies. Through a vulnerability study that we took part in, we’ve helped several close-to-death individuals get off the streets and into housing. Once they have housing, we help them with food, ID vouchers for the DMV, help them find jobs – anything they need to get back on their feet.”

A man of sincere faith, Pat’s love for the Lord – the ultimate model for service – drives his passion for serving others.

“This sounds corny but I’m so grateful to God for everyday above ground. I know He has a purpose for me.”

Dawn Wright, Director of Marketing & Communications, who works directly with Pat says it best: “The Salvation Army is often one of the first-responders to help people in the wake of tragedy. Pat Riley is the human embodiment of that promise. He is one of my go-to-guys. And how he has the time, given his large family and very active ministry, I’ll never know! If only I could bottle that energy, humility and enthusiasm!”

And Pasadena is blessed to have him. Thank you, Pat, for “Doing the Most Good” for so many in need!