The Woman of a Thousand Handshakes

This story is taken from my book, Changing Zip Codes. Since I love stories about unique people who make the world better, I thought I’d share her story.

Pat moved to a new state and a new town, Wayne, Illinois. Hopeful for new friends, she waited daily for someone to knock on her door and welcome her to her new home. Days passed without a single person to acknowledge her presence in the neighborhood. Finally a few years later she met a woman who invited her to a Bible study. Intrigued by something special she saw in this woman, she visited the group. At the study she met someone else, her Heavenly Father, and life changed. She found a new purpose for her life. Pat created a program called “Welcome to Wayne”.
Pat Schiltz explains in her own words:

women-handshake“Over a 22 year period I have had the privilege and pleasure of welcoming more than 1000 new families to Wayne with useful information about our community. Included are a map of Wayne and a neighborhood map specific to the newcomer’s location, a private Wayne Directory of names + addresses + phone number, some history about our village, and additional information on local organizations. Also available is a list of babysitters, and “Garden Gatherings” in the summer for Wayne women to get to know one another. My favorite part is networking each woman interested into knowing others in Wayne. The most exciting part for me was inviting women to “check out” our Bible study as a way of meeting other women in the community, even if they decided not to continue. However, most women did stay and many have come to know Jesus as their BEST friend!”

Since 1987 this petite, energetic mother of two has welcomed one thousand families to Wayne, Illinois. Did you all catch that one—-ONE THOUSAND FAMILIES, 1,000 FAMILIES! How did she do it? One hand shake at a time. What power found by one woman taking a painful experience (loneliness) and turning it into a positive ministry for newcomers.

Most of us may not be able to become a one-woman welcoming committee to every newcomer in town. What we can do, though, is to pick out one recent transplant and extend the hand of friendship. It take so little to change a community: a phone call, a ride, a batch of cookies. I don’t know about you, but as a veteran mover, I blinked back tears while reading Pat Schiltz’s story. I remember as a young mother looking high and low for a friendly face. I just wish I had moved to Wayne, Illinois.

Pat Schiltz, is woman who nurtures the newcomer. I’m sure she’ll be St. Peter’s greeter when she welcomes many into heaven.

To read more moving adventure and find encouragement during the transition time, check out my book, Changing Zip Codes, Finding Community Wherever You’re Transplanted. Available at,

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