10 years and counting for dedicated volunteers who pump gas for seniors

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 6 February 2014 at 12:00 am

Photo by Tom Rivers – Albion residents Clarence Winkelmann, left, and Gary Kent volunteer to pump gas for senior citizens every Wednesday from 9 to 11 a.m. at the Crosby’s gas station and food mart. Gary Westlund is another dedicated volunteer.

ALBION – Almost every Wednesday morning Donna Loughborough of Albion pulls into the Crosby’s gas station. Loughborough knows she will see a friendly face and she won’t have to leave her vehicle to get gas.

Every week, for 520 weeks and counting, a group of volunteers has been there to pump gas for senior citizens. The volunteers will also check car fluids, and walk the money inside the store.

“They’re a good bunch of guys,” Loughborough said about the volunteers. “They’re really dedicated.”

Before heading to a doctor’s appointment on Wednesday with her husband Allan, Loughborough stopped for gas. Clarence Winkelmann took care of it for her. He is part of a volunteer corps that typically includes Gary Kent and Gary Westlund.

“The people they really appreciate it,” said Winkelmann, a Marine and retired corrections officer. “It’s like giving a little bit back to the community.”

Winkelmann has been volunteering with the effort for more than nine years. He was bundled up for the cold on Wednesday.

“You can see it in the people’s faces,” he said. “They really love it, especially on a day like today.”

Kent, a retired Kendall social studies teacher, has been volunteering since the first Wednesday in February 2004. He wants to make the area more senior-friendly. He would like to recruit more volunteers to help seniors with small tasks around their homes, which could include changing light bulbs, installing railings, and changing smoke alarm batteries.

“We’re trying to develop a senior support system,” he said.

Kent praised Winkelmann and Westlund for their commitment to pumping gas. In good weather, about 40 seniors stop by on a Wednesday morning. On cold or rainy days, maybe 12 or 15 will pull up at the pumps.

Westlund drives to Albion from Spencerport to volunteer pumping gas. He is also a Marine. He is a retired materials manager at Delphi in Rochester. Westlund often helps the seniors figure out new electronic controls in their vehicles, technology that can be daunting for them.

“These two are freaking awesome,” Kent said about the Marines. “They are so dedicated and they take it so serious.”