Fellow volunteers are quick to praise Penny Putnam's contributions to the Good Shepherd Clinic of Dawson County.
"Although Penny came into our service with no background in the medical field she has learned everything and is doing a superb job," said Doug Powell, treasurer of the nonprofit center that provides free non-emergency health services to uninsured residents.
The clinic, which operates from the basement of Grace Presbyterian Church on Hwy. 9, is open Thursday afternoons.
Putnam, who was recently named its executive director, can be found mingling with volunteers and patients alike. People constantly call upon her for various needs, from advice on ordering prescriptions to a reassuring hug.
"I believe God guided me to this," said Putnam, 57. "I think he had more for me than sitting up on the deck watching the lake go by. I am really blessed."
A Dawsonville resident, Putnam began volunteering with the clinic last February after joining Grace Presbyterian Church.
Prior to moving to Dawson County to be closer to her mother, Putnam lived in Buckhead, where she had worked at a child development center.
"It is amusing to me to jump from child care, which I was really passionate about, to this," she said. "I think it's been wonderful for me because it's almost like starting a new career. I love it."
Due to the struggling economy and health care changes, Putnam sees the clinic's role as vital. She's proud of those brave enough to admit that they need help.
"I think for people to accept help is very difficult," she said. "I think it's difficult to walk through those doors the first time.
"So we treat them well because they are like you and me. It could be me and you. We have to help each other."
The clinic recently obtained 501(c)(3) nonprofit status. That has the volunteers looking forward to raising more funds and finding a new facility.
"We want to involve the community more because it's a Dawson clinic not a Grace Presbyterian clinic," Putnam said.