Good volunteers can be hard to find, and by all accounts, Fred Puttroff of Marion has been a good one, serving in various roles for his church, Eastmoor United Methodist, Marion Senior Center, and the county department on aging.
“He’s really the kind of guy that would just help out with anything,” Lanell Hett said.
But Puttroff can’t help right now. He’s been in a Wichita hospital since being struck by a car while riding his bicycle Aug. 30. Doctors struggled to save his shattered left arm but were unsuccessful. He is making progress, Eastmoor secretary Ginny Lind said, but it isn’t known when he will be released.
In his stead, others have stepped up to ensure that the things Puttroff cared about continue — delivering meals to seniors, providing them with transportation, and organizing the church’s funnel cake stand for Art in the Park.
Of the three, the last might seem the most inconsequential, but the income from selling funnel cakes goes to service activities.
“Half the proceeds are going to the development of the new youth center,” Lind said. “The other half is going toward our missions program. Fred has helped get it organized in the past, he’s pulled everything together. We will be missing him for sure.”
Eastmoor had to look no further than its church office to find volunteers.
“My husband, Doug, and I have kind of taken the lead on that,” Lind said. “It’s nice that we do have members that have worked on the stand in the past, and they’re stepping up to show us how to do it. Really, all we’ve had to do is organize it.”
The most immediate concern was finding a substitute delivery volunteer for the Friendship Meals program. Puttroff delivered meals on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.
“We have a few substitutes, and we have some people who drove an extra day,” senior center director Janet Bryant said. “We got by for a couple of weeks that way, but it’s not a permanent answer.”
Bryant said Puttroff was a dedicated volunteer who also liked to have fun.
“He was always joking and teasing,” she said. “Out in the kitchen when they were loading the meals they had a high good time.”
Equally important to the meals seniors get is the interaction with the drivers, Bryant said. They may be the only person a senior sees all day, so the driver checks people to see how they’re doing.
Puttroff often drove both routes because “that way he got to see everybody,” Bryant said.
Jerry Nelson, who lives part of the month in Marion and part in Sedona, Arizona, has been in town recently, and has filled in, Bryant said.
“But he’ll be gone again at some point,” she said. “If there would be some people who would come fill in a bit, it would help. It only takes an hour. Most people who do it really like it.”
Hett coordinates the transportation program for the deparment of aging, and she said Puttroff had already been missed.
“I have a gentleman that Fred’s taken, it’ll be four or five years, to Wichita every two to three months for appointments,” Hett said. “He called today wanting to know where he could send Fred a card.”
In addition to ferrying seniors to appointments, Puttroff volunteered to drive for special trips, such as a recent outing for a group of Durham seniors.
“I got a compliment from that Durham trip that Fred was very polite, friendly, and courteous,” Hett said. “The Durham president was in today and was going to request Fred again. She’d heard about the accident, but didn’t know it was him.”
As Hett talked, she recalled other ways Puttroff helped.
There was a time this summer he asked not to be scheduled on mornings, as he was going to be volunteering with the church’s vacation Bible school, she said.
Puttroff served on the agency’s transportation committee, and he assisted with folding and labeling to prepare quarterly newsletters for mailing.
Another of Hett’s drivers, Al Ash, was himself sidelined by an accident a few months ago. He recently told Hett he was available to drive again.
“It’s ironic that all that happened to Al, and now this happened to Fred,” she said. “I sure do welcome anybody who wants to be a volunteer driver.”