- Associated Press - Monday, March 24, 2014

ALTOONA, Pa. (AP) - Fred Buckreis‘ retirement in September gave him more time to help others.

Buckreis, who retired as a certified registered nurse anesthetist, said he saw an article in the newspaper indicating Blair Senior Services needed volunteers to help with its home-delivered meals program.

He called them up and soon was delivering meals three days a week to residents in the Broad Avenue and Wehnwood areas.

Buckreis has become an “incredible resource for the program,” said Laura Ford, program coordinator.

“He is a very caring, energetic volunteer. He always shows up early. He is eager and quickly learned the system. He always asks the seniors how they are doing. He is a very concerned, conscientious volunteer,” Ford said. “He will fill in if there are openings. He also helps the new volunteers learn the system, and he is fairly new himself.”

Buckreis enjoys delivering meals to the elderly.

“Sometimes I may be the only person they see that day,” Buckreis said.

Buckreis, 67, spends Tuesdays and Thursdays volunteering at Garvey Manor, where he often spends eight or nine hours a day.

“They are older people. They can tell you their life history, and you can learn stuff. I talked to a guy who was in the Korean War. We talk about old Altoona, the street car tracks, the old stores,” Buckreis said. “Talking to the people, you can pick up a lot of things in life. There are a lot of interesting people in this area.”

Garvey Manor residents enjoy having Buckreis around, said Debbie Dorazio, volunteer coordinator.

“He is a guy willing to give anything a try; he loves people and enjoys talking with people immensely and chatting with them. He loves volunteering, it is wonderful to have people like that who are willing to step up and help others,” Dorazio said. “He really enjoys the residents and helps with activities. He will do anything you ask him to help with.”

Buckreis, who grew up in the Dutch Hill area of Altoona, didn’t plan to go into the medical field.

“I was going to be a priest; that didn’t work out. I went to a minor seminary in Rochester, N.Y. Boys went there after eighth grade. It was all male, and there was no dating. I decided I wanted to do this before committing myself to a lifetime of celibacy,” Buckreis said.

He then thought about becoming a teacher, but the Vietnam War was raging when he graduated from Bishop Guilfoyle High School in 1964, so he decided to enlist in the Air Force rather than taking a chance of being drafted.

When he joined the Air Force, he became an X-ray technician.

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