NEW ORLEANS — Some neighborhood heroes have helped others get off drugs and stay clean. Others fight crime in their neighborhoods — but sometimes it’s simple things like making sure someone else is okay that really makes a big difference.
That's that case with Pat Beck.
When you walk through the doors of Anytime Fitness in Gentilly, the first thing you see is Beck. Here, she’s called Queen; and her castle is just a corner—but it works. She calls this space her office.
Usually when people say step in my office it’s not a good thing but for Beck's friends, it is.
"My office is all about love," Beck said.
Six days a week, after working out, Beck shares the love. The 70-year-old talks to people, hugs them and prays for them.
"She's just a beautiful person. A person who has a lot of grace, a lot of compassion. When I come in the gym, she makes me feel like family," one friend said.
Here at the gym, Beck works on staying healthy because her health hasn’t always been good. She was diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer in 2009. Beck said she knows that hardship — she knows what it’s like to be down, to be discouraged. She also knows how a simple gesture can change a person’s entire day.
"You don’t know what I’ve been through, I don’t know what you’ve been through but I’m glad you want to talk with me," Beck said. "People need somebody to talk to."
Talking is what Beck said got her through some difficult days while fighting lung cancer. The disease took a toll on her body. Some days she didn’t want to leave the bed. She also started wearing these unique, custom hats as a way to hide her shedding hair.
Beck has been cancer free since 2012 but these hats are a part of who she is now. She has dozens of them and they all represent a different mood. So the lady who wears many hats — literally — took on one more, by — figuratively — helping to spread love.
"She helps you to understand there are still good people in the world," her friend said.
"I want them to feel good about themselves that they can always talk to me," Beck said.
It’s that mentality and the steps she takes to make it real life that make this “special lady" one of our Neighborhood Heroes.