Seattle-based speaker Patt Schwab

Seattle-based speaker Patt Schwab

Humor in workplace topic of VIMO dinner

PORT ANGELES — Laughter replacing negativity: It’s what Patt Schwab likes to explore.

And explore it she will Friday at the Healthy Harvest Dinner, the biggest benefit of the year for Volunteers in Medicine of the Olympics, aka VIMO.

“I’ll talk about how you can use laughter in your everyday life . . . about how you can get points across with humor,” said Schwab, who makes her living talking about the everyday comedies around us.

When co-workers can laugh together, Schwab believes, they can build stronger work teams.

“In volunteer situations, it’s even more important to have a strong team,” she added, referring to the 100 unpaid workers who help VIMO’s three staff people run the clinic.

The Healthy Harvest Dinner, VIMO’s principal public fundraiser, starts with a social hour at 5:30 p.m. Friday at the Red Lion Hotel, 221 N. Lincoln St. Tickets are $75 and are available by phoning VIMO at 360-457-4431.

Dinner at 6:30 p.m. will be followed by Schwab’s talk at 7:30 p.m.

Rubber chicken stories

The Seattle-based speaker has been known to use a rubber chicken in her presentations.

In 20 years of public speaking, see, she’s heard a lot of rubber-chicken stories, so she shares them now and then.

One illustrates how a rubber chicken helped a husband and wife stay happily married.

They had been leaving little love notes around the house for each other — but the messages weren’t found in a timely fashion.

This sweet custom had turned bitter, as in: “I left you a love note. It’s been three weeks. What’s up?”

Naturally, the couple started using rubber chickens.

The wife would attach a love note to the chicken’s neck and stow it in her husband’s underwear drawer. Or he would bury his note — and chicken — in her vegetable garden.

That worked like a charm.

Of course, such props aren’t necessary to find humor at home or at work.

Comedy can be discovered in most workplaces; in fact, Schwab said, finding the humor in your office is finding the pulse of the organization.

Choosing to be funny rather than negative about a workplace problem changes the whole environment, Schwab said.

Laughter relaxes people — and next thing you know, you’re in a more creative workplace.

Schwab learned about harmony and humor at work back in the 1980s when she was residential life manager — in charge of the residence halls — at the University of Washington.

There, she used humor to help a diverse group of people get along.

“World peace begins,” Schwab said, “when you learn to live with somebody you didn’t choose.”

This applies in the workplace, too, she added. And “when I talk about humor, I’m not talking about jokes. I talk about just situational stuff, the humor that makes a big difference in people’s lives. There’s an ongoing payback.”

Schwab has even managed to find humor in her parents’ long-term-care experience.

Her book What’s So Funny about Long-Term Care? is available, along with her other writings, via her website,

Making a difference

Schwab’s talk at the VIMO dinner will likewise make a difference in people’s lives in and around Port Angeles, added Kathi Pressley, a volunteer organizer of the Healthy Harvest Dinner.

The VIMO clinic serves some 1,400 patients — people without adequate health insurance — with primary care, dental care and related services, said Executive Director Larry Little.

He and the volunteers handle as many as 300 clinic visits per month, with patients who have few options for finding health care.

“By going to the dinner,” Pressley said, “you’re helping provide funds for people who did not have access, to get a step up.”


Features Editor Diane Urbani de la Paz can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5062, or at

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