It’s an unusually quiet morning at the Syria Shrine Center. The employees have not returned since Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf, ordered the closing of all non-essential businesses. But the event space is not completely empty. If you listen closely you can hear the jingle of a key chain.
Fred Patterson, the property manager of the facility, walks the deserted hallways daily to ensure the upkeep of the space. His hope is that after quarantine ends, his place of work gets back to running smoothly.
The Syria Shrine Center is an event space and the meeting headquarters for the Syria Shriners, a members only organization, that administers Shriner’s Hospitals for Children. Patterson arrives early in the morning and does his rounds, locking and unlocking doors with his bundle of different sized keys.
“I know that nothing has changed, but it is nice to get some exercise and have peace of mind,” he said.
With 37 acres of land and a large building full of ballrooms, meeting rooms, and a workshop, there is plenty of space to move around. Patterson goes about his morning routine, checking emails, looking at upcoming events and checking up on maintenance projects that have now come to a halt. He tries to keep things as normal as possible, but with what is going on in the world today, things have definitely changed.
“I’m in constant contact with the event planners, so I know when events will be rescheduled and how many guys I will need to be working that night,” he said.
Patterson also puts time aside for personal projects. With free reign of an entire workshop, he is able to complete home projects that he hasn’t been able to get around to because of work. He is working on a new front stoop for his home and also fixing up parts for his truck.
Most people have been working from home, like Patterson’s wife Kim, but she supports his daily visits to the Shrine.
“He is the only one up there, and it is nice for him to have his own space to continue work. It’s the perfect place to social distance,” she said.
Doing his best to stay positive, Patterson focuses on all of the work he has been able to get done since being the only one at the facility. Although things are crazy right now, he only has hopeful words for others.
“I think if our community comes together and follows the rules, we can all help each other to overcome a time like this. It is crazy to see, but I just pray for everyone’s health.”