“I picked the Army at random,” said Bruce Wakeley, a longtime volunteer for the Indiana Division. “But I think it’s been a good fit for both of us. I believe in doing the most good, and that’s what I see them doing every day.”
Bruce started volunteering 14 years ago, when he signed up to ring bells at kettles for the Indianapolis Eagle Creek, Ind., Corps. A retired electrician, he was looking for ways to give back to the community.
He joined the emergency disaster services (EDS) team and has served across Indiana, from historic flooding of the Ohio River in New Albany to the aftermath of multiple tornadoes tearing through the city of Kokomo. Last winter he responded to a large apartment fire, providing support for multiple emergency and fire response teams and comfort to displaced families. Most recently, he served at a major fire at an auto repair shop where he provided refreshment to first responders as they fought the blaze through the night.
“Bruce is there when you need him, happy and willing to serve,” said Bert Williams, Indiana divisional EDS director, adding that when the call for an EDS responder goes out, Bruce always volunteers.
When Angel Tree rolls around in December, Bruce takes his repair and engineering talents on the road, setting up what the special events team affectionately calls “Bruce’s Bike Shop” at the distribution center. He inspects, assembles and repairs nearly 100 bicycles, tricycles and wagons to ensure they are safe.
“Bruce is a huge blessing,” said Captain Chrissy Cooper, then Eagle Creek corps officer.
Bruce can be counted on, whether it’s manning the canteen for the annual Circle City Toy Run, repairing kitchen cabinets at a corps or fixing the lighting at the EDS warehouse. He is the 2018 recipient of the Sleeves Rolled Up award, which is given by National Headquarters to the top EDS volunteer from each of the four U.S. territories at the biennial National Community Relations and Development and EDS Conference.
“With everything the Army does, they need help,” concluded Bruce. “If not me, then who?”