We at US El Salvador Sister Cities are sad and heart broken to be mourning the recent death of our dear friend and sister in solidarity, Pat Arvidson. Beloved by all in the USESSC family, Pat was devoted to the work of solidarity with El Salvador and committed to the New Jersey sister communities, Los Amates and San Isidro. Pat was also an active member of the Sister Cities Board of Directors.
Funny, smart, outspoken, fierce, and kind Pat was one of our wise woman members who we relied on on for her insight, knowledge, and expertise in all things finance and budget related, among many other things.Through her many years with USESSC she helped shape and define who we are as an organization. We miss Pat dearly everyday and are so grateful she chose USESSC to share so much of wonderful self.
USESSC Board President
Below Michael Ring, one of Pat's closest friends and long-time USESSC activist, shares his thoughts and memories of Pat.
Pat Arvidson Presente!
Maria Elena and I first met Pat in early 1994 as part of preparations for a human rights observer delegation our New Jersey US-El Salvador Sister Cities Committee was organizing to El Salvador for the first elections after the Salvadoran Civil War.
Both Pat and her husband Jeff Bogdan had signed up for the delegation and it was clear right from the start that this was an extraordinary couple. For one thing, Pat and Jeff had a unique way of showing their affection for each other by bringing the practice of argument to an art form! On what was a trip filled with intensity (folks voting on either side had been firing bullets at each other only a few years earlier), their verbal jujitsu about matters strategic (how to handle a particular political situation) or not (the discussion could involve the most mundane of topics), brought levity to the group’s important work.
For us, Pat and Jeff joining that delegation was the beginning of a friendship that brought joy into our lives. Our solidarity meetings and events always combined serious work with a sense of humor and community. And at times, we left the solidarity work completely to one side. One example was all of us getting together to celebrate Pat and Jeff’s wedding, one of the best parties ever on the Jersey Shore!
For the El Salvador solidarity movement, Pat and Jeff played many roles in supporting this transformational work to support the Salvadoran people’s struggle for justice When we lost Jeff several years ago, it was a real blow. And now, we have lost one of our most determined and dedicated activists and a beautiful friend.
Pat traveled many times to Los Amates and San Isidro to express solidarity in person. She received many Salvadorans on tour into her home, facilitating the opportunity for Salvadorans to educate people here in the U.S. about the need to advocate for changes in U.S. Policy towards Central America. As many of you all know from your own participation, Pat organized innumerable events here in New Jersey that have helped sustain community organizing efforts, scholarships and other critical projects.
Pat made an impact not only in New Jersey and in New Jersey’s sistered communities of Los Amates and San Isidro. For many years she served on US-El Salvador Sister Cities national board, including a time as President, ensuring the organization could continue accompanying the organizing work of the 100,000 member campesin@ association, CRIPDES, one of El Salvador’s most dynamic social movements of which Los Amates and San Isidro are members.
When I was serving as national coordinator for Sister Cities years ago, Pat’s friendship and support at times meant the difference between my sanity and losing my mind. I called Pat on numerous occasions to help troubleshoot key issues for Sister Cities. She would take a break from her work at the “vault” at Citi (she and I joked that since the money was only numbers on a computer, since she ran the computers, she controlled the “vault”). And whether it was how we could figure out a new fundraising strategy to help the organization survive, how to manage an administrative challenge or what emerging political issues in the US or El Salvador meant for our work, Pat’s strength, determination, problem-solving skills, commitment to justice and sense of humor always helped us get through tough times.
I could ramble on for a long time about Pat. She was a tremendous person and will be sorely missed as our friend and as our partner in struggle to make a better world. She made a beautiful splash on this Earth. The ripples of that splash will flow out into the universe for a long time to come. We love you, Pat.
Pat Arvidson- Presente!
“Not everything that is faced can be changed; but nothing can be changed until it is
- James Baldwin