The Late Patricia Cates

Oklahoma Foundation for Excellence
Oklahoma Mentor Day

The Late Patricia Cates

Believe in Some One Now (B.I.S.O.N.) Mentors, Leedey 

We are saddened to learn of the recent passing of B.I.S.O.N.’s 2018 Honored Mentor Patricia Cates. Cates was matched with high school senior Samantha “Sam” Touchstone since the mentoring program began six years ago.  Cates, a retired office manager for a telecommunications company, said her own childhood experience inspired her to become a mentor.

Cates and her four sisters were raised by a single mother, who had to take on extra jobs to earn a living after their father passed away. “Because of my childhood, I realize how important it is to spend time with a child and help them feel valued and special,” Cates said.

Among their favorite activities, Cates and Sam enjoyed sewing, needle point, crocheting and math homework.

“One of the best stories about these two ladies was when Pat introduced Sam to sewing,” said B.I.S.O.N. Mentors Director Kris Gore. “Sam fell in love with sewing so much that she asked for a sewing machine from her family for Christmas. Sam realized that with this new sewing skill, she could hand make gifts for the people she loved. She has since made a baby doll blanket, a lap quilt, and four other full-sized quilts.”

Because of Cates’ influence, Sam was inspired to start her own peer-based mentoring program in Leedey, “Project Buddy.” Now in its second year, the program matches high school students with grade school students who are struggling with math.  Cates encourages and helps Sam organize information for Project Buddy.

Gore described the duo as one of the best mentor matches Leedey has ever had. “Pat helped mold Sam into a smart young lady with goals, and drive and ambition to get a college degree and either become a teacher or an X-ray technician.”

About the program: Launched in 2011, B.I.S.O.N. Mentors is a school-based program that serves Pre-K through 12th grade students in the small western Oklahoma community of 435 residents. Leedey Superintendent Rusty Puffinbarger and Mentor Coordinator Kris Gore started the program, and with the help of six board members, rallied the support of their town and in just a short time made a great impact on their school’s entire student body.