Paul Scrabeck brings enthusiasm, compassion

Published 9:10 am Saturday, August 1, 2009

“I’m so blessed to be able to do what I do,” said Paul Scrabeck of Alden.

On Wednesday, the retired farmer and dairyman will be one of two recipients of the 2009 Outstanding Senior Volunteer Award at the Freeborn County Fair.

“I’m so humbled and so glad I can be with people and make a difference in their lives. It helps me to enjoy retirement immensely,” he said.

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Scrabeck said he ceased dairying operations about 1990 on his farm two miles south of Alden on County Road 4 and fully retired in 1999.

He and his wife, Dorothy, started volunteering in 1987 at Friendship House in Wells, visiting residents every Sunday. (Friendship House closed in 2006; however, by this time his volunteering activities had been extended to other senior facilities.)

Dorothy, who was from Wells, was “a great farmer’s wife,” he said. She worked at Good Samaritan Center and he also became a volunteer driver at this place.

His wife died in May 2001, after they had been married 51 years. They had four children: Bob of Albert Lea, Keith and Cheri Bruzelius on the home place south of Alden, and Janelle and Cal Cleveland of Fort Worth, Texas. The oldest son, Keith, is deceased.

Scrabeck also has 14 grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.

The Alden resident has been nominated for this special recognition by several organizations, which serve the senior citizens of the area.

Marilynn Borland, Ride Services coordinator, wrote, “ (He) has been a volunteer driver for Senior Resources of Freeborn County Ride Services program since 1993. He is always willing to go above and beyond his normal call of duty with the Ride Services Program. Paul is a very caring and devoted driver. He logged 7,168 miles in 2008 and donated 756 hours of his time to make a difference in his community.

“There have been times when Paul has dropped whatever he was going to do to help out a Ride Services rider on his day off from driving. Riders will often ask for Paul to drive them to and from their appointments.”

One incident stands out in Borland’s mind, she said. Scrabeck had been transporting a man to dialysis for several years. He had taken the man to the drug store and stayed with him while he got his prescriptions. While in the drug store, the man suffered a heart attack. Scrabeck stayed with the man until the ambulance arrived, then notified his family, she said.

“Paul is willing to do whatever is necessary to get things done. He is a kind and giving man and he never expects anything in return. I am very grateful to have Paul as a driver,” Borland wrote.

Carla Reichel, volunteer coordinator at St. John’s Lutheran Home, wrote, “Paul has been volunteering his time at St. John’s since 1997. Over the last 12 years, he has donated 2,000 hours and has qualified for the gold level Presidential Service Award. Paul was named our Volunteer of the Year in 2003.

“Paul has helped in many ways over the years. He has been a shopper, a driver, a visitor, and a friend. Paul has helped with clinicals, podiatry, bingo and parties. There is nothing and no one Paul’s influence hasn’t touched.”

Reichel said Scrabeck does not volunteer so he can receive honors or awards. “He is a humble, gracious and generous human being. Paul lives in the moment and as a volunteer brings a tremendous amount of enthusiasm and compassion with him,” she wrote.

Added Beth Spande, program director of the Retired and Senior Volunteer Program, “For many people around Freeborn County, Paul Scrabeck is indeed a hero and Outstanding Senior Volunteer.”

Scrabeck has also been a part of RSVP since 1992, Crossroads Community Hospice (where he volunteers to make the end of life better for ill people and their families), Gideons International, Prairie River Camp near Bricelyn (where he mows the lawn), and was cited as Volunteer of the Year by the Good Samaritan Society in 1995.

He was a nominee for the Jefferson Award in 2004 and the President’s Volunteer Service Lifetime Award in 2007.

“I’ve been so blessed in life with great neighbors, friends and family,” Scrabeck said.