Someone You Should Know: The Albion Betterment Committee

(WHAM photo)

Members of the Albion Betterment Committee say they are used to getting funny looks. They expect people will question their motives and respond to them with suspicion. And yet, they are not deterred.

“The thing that cracks us up the most is how often we get people who just look at us and don't believe we actually do this,” says Gary Kent, co-director of ABC. “They think it's some kind of a scam to try to get tips from them or something like that.”

But it’s not a scam. Gail Forquell knows that because it was in the paper.

“It was in the Penny Saver,” she says, “that every Wednesday they're going to help seniors, which is great because I'm a senior.”

What members of ABC do each week is show up at Crosby’s gas station in Albion, and pump gas. They do it for seniors, and anyone else who might appreciate the gesture.

Laurie Stockton, who’s not a senior citizen yet, was pleasantly surprised after being asked by a committee member if he could fill up her car so she didn’t have to.

“You don't see people doing things just because it's a good thing or the right thing to do,” Stockton told us. “And that's what this is.”

Clarence Winkelmann thought the project sounded like a good idea. So he got involved.

“Doing some good for the elderly and giving back to the community. That's how I ended up here,” he says. “14 years later, I'm still pumping gas Wednesdays from 9 to 11.”

Word of the practice spread, and now people will come from miles around. But strangers still find it strange, at least at first.

“It's hilarious,” says Kent, recalling the reaction of some skeptics. “I say, 'We'll pump your gas for you if you'd like us to,' and they say, ‘No you won't.’”

Not only will they pump the gas, they give rebates of a nickel a gallon. While the customers pay for the fuel, the rebates come from the pockets of the volunteers at ABC. If a rebate recipient is so inclined, they can donate the rebate to PAWS, a local pet rescue.

Members of the Albion Betterment Committee do other good deeds as well. They’ve built porches at no charge for people in need. They’ve bought Christmas gifts for children and installed toilets. And they’ve made Hospice visits when word gets around that one of the regulars won’t be coming in for gas anymore.

It's not just service to others. It's full service - by someone you should know.

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