We bid a sad farewell to Pat Iriana, a dear mother-figure to many in The Root Cellar community. Pat and her husband, Joe, spent many years serving those in need in areas of Germany with Teen Missions International, Belize with Youth With A Mission, and Nigeria, Honduras and the Philippines with the Advent Christian denomination. She started working at The Root Cellar in 1994, leading the children’s ministry, but realized soon that to positively affect the children, outreach to their mothers was needed. From this was birthed the ladies breakfast, needlework classes and a variety of groups where woman could come together to share and strengthen one another. These ministries thrived alongside the growing food and clothing distribution programs.
The growth of these ministries was the reason behind the capital campaign to build a larger facility. Pat was integral to its success, affording The Root Cellar to take possession of this 11,000 square foot building, debt free. During that time, Pat realized that one of the greatest needs in the neighborhood was dental services. Having already started the free medical clinic with Dr. Gunnoe, Pat now turned to her husband Dr. Joe, a dentist in Kennebunk. Collaborating with many dentists and volunteers she collected donated equipment and recruited a volunteer dental staff. As a result, thousands have received fee free dentures, fillings, braces, cleanings, root canals and dental surgery.
So many of the families who came to The Root Cellar were touched by Pat's strength of character, compassion and wisdom. Pat saw every day as an opportunity to see God work in the lives of Munjoy Hill families, church volunteers and fellow staff members. When Portland welcomed many refugee and immigrant populations, Pat saw it as an opportunity to expand existing ministries to help integrate our new friends and, personally, formed close bonds with the newly arriving families. Pat was an example to us all of I John 3:18, “love, not in word or speech, but in truth and action.”
One story told by her dear friend, Anne Kinley, recalls when a young mother from the neighborhood passed away leaving behind a devastated family. Pat helped with the funeral arrangements and ministerial support. She purchased suits for the young sons to wear at the funeral, giving them pride in honoring their mother as well. Another friend recalls Pat visiting her in the hospital. "She lit up the room when she came, and by the end of the visit I was in pain from laughing so hard, but feeling better than ever."
Pat and her husband, Joe, were also instrumental in founding HealthEquip, a nonprofit devoted to providing developing countries with used medical and dental equipment, and most recently served the homeless as volunteers at Fort Myers Rescue Mission.
Pat's life verse was Proverbs 3:5-6, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to Him and He will make your paths straight.”
by Anne Kinley & Laura Iriana Zercher
If you have special memories of Pat that you would like to share, a special Facebook page has been set up to celebrate the life of this extraordinary woman.
You may also leave a message or memorie of Pat in the comments below.
A Memorial Service will be held at 3:00 PM on Saturday, May 18, 2019 with Rev. Paul Gant officiating at Sea Road Church, 140 Sea Road, Kennebunk, ME Kennebunk, ME 04043.
In lieu of flowers, the family has asked that memorial donations be made to two of her favorite organizations. We are so grateful for her continued impact on so many of our neighbors.
Fort Myers Rescue Mission
6900 Mission Lane
Fort Myers, Florida 33916
The Root Cellar
94 Washington Ave
Portland, ME 04101