The Mountains Are Calling and She Must Go…

by Andrea Wackerle

When arriving to SOAR many families and staff would be greeted by a lady with luscious curly locks. Little did they know this lady, Laura Pate, would greatly impact their life. She offered comfort to anxious campers as their parents drove away, guided staff through difficult situations, and was a voice of sage counsel throughout her many years at SOAR.

Laura arrived to SOAR 22 years ago to support summer programs and help work in the community-based programs SOAR sponsored at the time.  She and her husband, Joe Moore, moved into a job-sharing role to support developing summer programs in 1999.  She became Director of North Carolina Programs in 2000 and joined the Executive Management Team in 2012.  Since then she has been the Director of Operations where she finished her time at SOAR.

Laura has mentored staff and students, tirelessly pursuing excellence in programming, and supported her teammates unconditionally.  Her combination of heart, strength, and tenacity has been a beacon for the professionals that have had a chance to work with her.

Her commitment to this field is only surpassed by the love and care she has bestowed upon her family. She and Joe make quite a team and together can accomplish anything they set their mind to.  Her son Dylan has become an integral part of the fishing program in the Florida Keys over winter break. Her daughter Cassidy has provided support in both an administrative capacity and as an instructor.  Laura is a dynamic force of nature and she and her family are beloved.

The gifts she bestowed on her SOAR family are too many to count. We will miss her bright personality, her passion, her ability to solve anything, her incredible mind, her dance moves, nail game, smile, and so much more. We cannot put into words what you have meant to SOAR through these years. We are beyond excited for you to start your next great adventure, just know your SOAR family will be cheering you on every step of the way. 

When we asked Laura to reflect on her time at SOAR, even then she made sure to put others first. Here is her parting message

As I reflect on my 22-year career at SOAR, so many great memories spring to mind: sitting on top of a rock face with a camper, admiring the awesome views and pointing out the confidence they built as they overcame their fears; talking with staff about both the joys and challenges of the field of experiential education; meeting families and feeling that sense of hope discovered for them when they hear about all that SOAR has to offer; the sense of camaraderie with colleagues who share the same passion and purpose of changing kids’ lives.  I’ve been blessed to be able to meet amazing and resilient future world leaders, work with some of the best professionals in this field, and contribute to a vocation that I love. If I have been able to positively impact the lives of any others in some small way, I will consider my career well spent.  I am eternally grateful to SOAR and my colleagues for giving me the opportunity to do just that.

I am not yet sure what the next steps for me will be, but they will likely involve more outdoor adventures and looking for opportunities to impact the world in a positive way.  I wish SOAR and everyone associated with it continued success and, like eagles, to SOAR toward their greatest heights!  Wishing you all the best,