Before closing the book on 2021, District 1 paused to add a name to the list of honored members of its team.
Late last year, Venango County equipment operator Mindy McFetridge was given the Workplace Hero award for her actions of going above and beyond to provide service to two people stranded on the side of the road on November 15, 2021.
"PennDOT is an organization based on service to the public, and our employees work every day to fulfill that mission," said Brian McNulty, District 1 Executive. "Mindy is a great example of how the community service mindset can positively impact the lives of strangers and how kindness can be life-saving."
McFetridge was traveling with her daughter in the Grand Valley area of Warren County when the two spotted a vehicle stopped on the side of the road. When the vehicle and its senior occupants, Timothy and Anita Wahl, were still there an hour later that afternoon, the duo pulled over to see what type of help was needed.
Cell phone reception in that area was unreliable and the weather was wintry and cold. McFetridge offered to assist with locating towing services for the couple, who are from New York state. Along with making the phone calls and tracking down a hauler who could cross state lines, McFetridge offered the out-of-area visitors food and shelter from the chilly temperatures.
Early the next morning, the Wahls finally arrived home, safe in major part because of McFetridge's actions and dedication to community service.
"I cannot express to you how hopeless our situation felt to us. We are new to the area and had no one to call. To have a stranger open her heart and home to help us was nothing short of a miracle," Timothy Wahl wrote to PennDOT following the incident.
On December 22, McFetridge was awarded a plaque in recognition of her excellent customer service. McNulty presented the honor and relayed the story to the small group gathered for the informal ceremony.
"It could happen to anyone. All you can do is hope that someone else would help you," she said. "Around here, lending a helping hand is just what we do."
PennDOT became aware of Mindy's actions when Timothy Wahl submitted a comment through the Kudos form available on www.penndot.gov.
"We are proud to have Mindy as part of our team and not surprised at all by her actions. It is in her nature to care about her community and help others without hesitation. She is the definition of excellent customer service," said Paula Klingler, Venango County Manager.
McFetridge is a nine-year employee with PennDOT Venango County and works out of the Pleasantville maintenance facility.
Workplace Hero is an award open to PennDOT employees who, during work hours or as a representative of the department, take actions that prevent the death or serious injury of a co-worker or member of the public.
McFetridge joins the ranks of other District 1 employees to receive the honor in recent years, including 2018 Mercer County employees Jim Tuchek, Rick Stoyer and George Nunemaker, and 2019 college interns Jacob Southwick and Nick Swatzler.
PHOTO: Mindy McFetridge (second from left) was awarded a Workplace Hero award for her actions to help two stranded motorists. She is pictured with Venango County Manager Paula Klingler (left), District 1 Executive Brian McNulty, and Assistance District Executive – Maintenance Doug Schofield.