STILLWATER — Patricia R. Turner’s soft, sweet daily prayer spoke volumes.
Turner had serious health issues that led her to use a wheelchair for more than four decades. But the challenges didn’t stop her nor her daily request.
“Her morning prayer was an inspiration to me and to my sister,” said daughter Nancy Allford, “for even in her condition, she asked the Lord every morning to give her an opportunity to be useful.
“That prayer is an integral part of me, and even if my part is small, I, too, pray every day that I can be useful in some way.”
Those prayers are just part of the foundation that Allford, 64, of Stillwater, has built upon as a volunteer.
“I can safely say that the desire to volunteer in my community, no matter where I am living, came from observing a long line of family members who always felt a need to give back to any community in which they lived,” Allford said. “My grandparents all participated in various volunteer capacities both in church and in the community, and they taught all of us grandchildren to appreciate what we had. Their legacy was to instill in us a desire to make the world in which we lived a better place.
“My parents exhibited the same qualities, so it has only been natural that I have always felt some kind of obligation to go beyond what is just expected whether in church, at work or as a citizen of my community.”
‘My desire to serve’
Early in her life, Allford volunteered in Sunday school, vacation Bible school, student council and vocal music to name a few activities. There were special events, as well, such as when she helped put flags on the graves of veterans for Memorial Day, and when she helped serve pancakes at the annual Kiwanis pancake breakfast.
“All of my memories of volunteering are highlights of my life and reflect my desire to serve my church and my community,” she said.
Allford lived in Holdenville most of her life and was active in Barnard Memorial United Methodist Church. She served on the church council and various committees, and taught Sunday School when her children were young.
“Later, after I became a high school English teacher, I enjoyed helping with the youth group, and at one point, I helped to organize an after-school tutoring program,” she said.
“Also as a high school teacher, I helped to establish a nondenominational group that met once a month in my classroom for the purpose of serving the Lord through mission work.
“One of the ladies from my church, Jerrie Lindsey, was fundamental in setting the groundwork for this wonderful, God-inspired group to get started, and the Methodist Women supplied lunch for our meetings.
“The kids raised money to fight hunger around the world, worked in the local food pantry and clothing store, and several times a year put together kits to be sent to United Methodist Corp on Relief.”
Also while teaching, Allford was a sponsor for National Honor Society.
“It is easy volunteering to spend time with students who themselves care about the world in which they live, and who are striving to make the world a better place through academics and leadership,” she said.
‘I feel blessed’
Allford retired from Holdenville Public Schools last spring after teaching high school English for 24 years.
She and husband John moved to Stillwater a year ago this month. Newly retired, she promised herself that she would say “yes” to every invitation and that she would quickly establish a new church home. She did that.
She volunteers twice monthly to work in the First United Methodist Church of Stillwater food store and helps with packing the backpacks for the school backpack program.
“This church has so many avenues for volunteers that I feel blessed to be able to do whatever I can to serve in some capacity,” Allford said. “Just last week, the church members came together to pack 75,000 meals in our fight against hunger. It was an amazing event, and I was blessed to be a part of such an endeavor.”
But her volunteering is not limited to church.
‘I love being active’
In the community she is a board member for Wings of Hope Family Crisis Center.
“This center serves victims of domestic violence and sexual assault from a five-county area,” Allford said. “It houses the domestic violence shelter and includes counseling services for the women and children — even counseling for the offenders.
“It also provides parenting classes, a relief nursery and a Children’s Activity Center. When I saw the byline for this center, ‘Safety, Hope, Empowerment … When Home Isn’t Safe Anymore,’ I felt compelled to say ‘yes’ to becoming a board member.”
In March, Allford participated in the Wings of Hope annual fundraising event and was overwhelmed by the generosity of the Stillwater community.
Even though her mother died in 1998, those prayers continue to speak volumes in 2014, as Allford offers to help others in so many ways.
“I offer a sincere desire to serve,” she said.
“I love being active and I enjoy meeting new people and experiencing new adventures.
“I look for God’s guidance in what I do and hope that He will use me in some way to make a difference in this world. Now that I am retired and living in Stillwater, I will continue to do my part by volunteering when and where I can.”