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Oklahoma City volunteer not only loves community, but gives back many ways

Patsy Shepherd, Oklahoma State Fair volunteer Photo Provided - 
Photo Provided
Patsy Shepherd, Oklahoma State Fair volunteer Photo Provided - Photo Provided

How did Patsy Shepherd become a volunteer at the Oklahoma State Fair?

Shepherd, 66, of Oklahoma City, followed her heart.

She was born in Chicago, and growing up in Air Force family spent most of her childhood in Bossier City, La. But in 1963 her father was assigned to Altus Air Force Base and she’s lived in the state ever since. Not only lived in it, but grew to love it to the point Shepherd felt she needed to give back as a volunteer — and has so repeatedly.

“I probably never gave it much thought until I read something about volunteers being sought to help with the Olympic Festival in 1989,” she said. “That is the first real experience that I recall and both of my children, who were 12 and 15 at the time, participated in that two-week adventure.

“We worked in many of the sport venues as well as in the Olympic village. My children, Casey Shepherd and Kerry Knisley, have both acquired a servant heart and continue to volunteer in their adult lives.”

Patsy Shepherd has found that sometimes the opportunity to help has involved events such as the Olympic Festival, but other times the need for assistance has resulted from a tragedy.

“The most poignant volunteer experience was when I was with the Red Cross following the Murrah Building bombing in 1995,” Shepherd said. “Again, my kids helped and we served meals to the rescue personnel in the days following the bombing.

“I worked again with the Red Cross following the Moore tornadoes in 2013.”

Currently she volunteers at the Civic Center Music Hall, Oklahoma City Community College Performing Arts, Jewel Box Theatre, Poteet Theater, Haunt the Zoo, RSVP of Central Oklahoma and the Oklahoma State Fair.

“I look at these as opportunities of ways to give back to a community that I love,” Shepherd said.

She recently finished her ninth year as a volunteer at the state fair.

“My first volunteer experience at our state fair was at the request of my friend, David Thompson of Granada Florist, who needed to procure volunteers to help with a giant mural that was to be painted by fairgoers,” she said. “This was in 2006 and the plan was to do a trial run so that in 2007 we could have a giant mural to commemorate Oklahoma’s Centennial.”

That first year Shepherd worked a pair of four-hour shifts. That, “has morphed into up to 20 shifts” which include activities before, during and after the state fair.

She is one of 19 volunteer captains.

“Captains at the Oklahoma State Fair take on a leadership role,” said Shannon Crossley, volunteer coordinator for the fair. “They dedicate more hours pre-fair and take a large role in training new volunteers each year, as well as help run our headquarters office during the fair.”

Pre-fair efforts

Shepherd logged about 80 hours at this year’s fair. A few days of that included pre-fair efforts such as putting together volunteer packets, setting up vendor rooms and delivering ice and snacks to vendors as they set up their booths.

Having volunteered in various areas, Shepherd was asked to name her favorite aspect. That’s not easy, she admitted.

“I enjoy the behind-the-scenes, setting up each day, but probably most enjoy giving inFAIRmation about what’s happening, what the latest fried food craze is and where to find it,” Shepherd said. “It’s fun to watch couples or families seeking out and enjoying all the fair has to offer.”

And with the experience in so many facets, Shepherd can be flexible and help “pick up the slack and fill in the gaps.”

While her visits to the fair include some busy days, she enjoys the experience — and most of all the people.

“The blessings are plentiful, smiles from patrons and vendors about services offered and the cool logo T-shirts shirts every year,” she said. “This year ours said ‘Don’t go BACON my heart...I couldn’t if I fried!’ Last year it was ‘Keep Calm and have a Corn Dog!’

“There’s the joy in watching so many things run simultaneously and smoothly and the satisfaction of knowing that our volunteer services provide so much free manpower to the whole operation.”

Although this was her ninth year, it was a little different. Shepherd’s mother was diagnosed with bladder cancer Aug. 27. She is the only of four sisters who lives in Oklahoma City.

“My amazing sisters have tag teamed and come up to stay with our mom during the past two months,” she said. “Only because of this could I have the freedom and peace of mind to continue with my commitments to the state fair.

“I wanted to be here because I love it.”

Interested in becoming a volunteer at the Oklahoma State Fair? Learn more about the volunteer opportunities at .

Bryan Painter

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