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Life, and the games, go on for Oklahoma City volunteer

Patsy George
Patsy George

Patsy George answered the call to volunteer.

Literally, the phone rang and George answered.

On the other end was George’s minister at the time at Council Road Baptist Church, Chris Wall. He had a favor to ask. A Christian-based summer high school baseball team needed housing for some players.

Wall knew that George’s sons had played baseball, including Todd, who played at the high school and college levels and then in professional baseball.

Wall also knew Patsy and husband, Steve, had been married 36 years before Steve suffered a heart attack and died in June 2007. The couple had loved watching sports together.

During the phone call, Wall told George what this baseball team, the Ambassadors, was about.

The team was about trying to save other lives following a death.

That was the death of Justin Sullivan, of Yukon High School, who was killed in a freak accident on Interstate 44 in June 2002, the day after being named The Oklahoman’s baseball player of the year.

And Wall explained baseball was the way they were going about it. Obviously, the team plays games, but the Ambassadors are also a ministry.

Wall had been Sullivan’s youth pastor at Council Road Baptist Church, and he had written a book called “A Life Worth Following” about Justin. The team was yet another step.

“At first I was very leery of taking strange young men into my home,” said George, 65, of Oklahoma City. “But Chris said that they were all Christian young men. If they misbehaved, they would be kicked out of the program. Then I remembered how several families had housed my son, Todd, when he played professional ball in the minor leagues for the Montreal Expos and then independent ball. “And it was always a good experience.”

“Thank you”

Where did this passion for helping others come from? George points to her father, Claude Seal, 95, and her mother, Betty Seal, 87. Her parents were active in their community — church, PTA and youth baseball.

Claude was a Boy Scout leader and Betty volunteered at the hospital.

And George carries that forward.

Through the years, she served as a preschool director and youth volunteer at Council Road Baptist Church. She’s been a Kappa Delta Alumnae officer locally and nationally, served as a Race for Healing volunteer and helped at the schools of their children — Jeff, Todd and Matt — in the Putnam City School District.

George taught first grade for 30 years, with 28 of those in the Putnam City School District. Plus, she volunteered as a Sunday school and vacation Bible school teacher for many years.

But housing and instruction are just a sample of what she provides as a volunteer.

“I give support by cheering and I always try to be positive,” she said. “I provide transportation to airports and the emergency room. I provide food and snacks. I am a great listener and will give advice if asked. I’m an encourager and I am willing to serve others.

“The words ‘thank you’ and a hug mean a lot to me.”

Friends forever

With the Ambassadors program, George was assigned three high school students from Roff, Red Oak and Eufaula during that first summer.

“They were from wonderful families who loved baseball as I did and a friendship was formed,” she said. “I became the housing director for the Ambassadors and then traveled with the team, pulling the equipment trailer. The boys named me ‘Momma P’ and I became their mom away from home.

“I was always there to help them in any way ... especially when their parents were not at the tournaments.”

Over five years George has housed 21 players; several of them were with her for two seasons. Because of the friendships she has forged with families, “I have a waiting list for future years.”

Wall, now senior pastor of First Baptist Owasso, said when he thinks about George, “I think of the word ‘investment.’”

“She does not have limitless financial resources but she gives something much more valuable: her time,” Wall said. “She makes investments in people. She made an investment in me and my family. I have known her for over 20 years and this has been the story of her life for a long time. Patsy is such a wonderful blessing to so many.

“You will not only find her loving and following the Ambassadors, you will often find Patsy at Little League baseball games sitting with families, cheering on kids in her Sunday school class or kids from her school. This practice is not limited to baseball; Patsy is also faithful to go to plays, choir concerts, band concerts, piano recitals, birthday parties and talent shows. Patsy just loves people.”

George is forever committed, way beyond a school year or a season.

Students will always be her students and baseball players will always be her baseball players.

When the summer is over, she follows many of the Ambassadors players’ high school and college teams. Last year, she watched about 140 baseball games and 28 basketball games of Ambassadors and former students. Plus, from September through November she went to eight football games of her former students.

“I stay in touch or go to the games of many Ambassadors players, even if they did not stay with me.” She said. “They are always welcome in my home.

“The giving goes both ways. They are very kind and respectful to me. They are a huge blessing to me.”

Bryan Painter

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