Red Cross honors McDonough man for volunteer work



By Jason A. Smith
Times Correspondent



Wesley Bruce of McDonough wasn’t expecting that his volunteer work would result in any kind of recognition. He simply puts himself in the shoes of people who need help in times of crisis.

“I was a little surprised,” said Bruce, 58. “I thought other people should have gotten it ahead of me.”



Red Cross volunteer Wesley Bruce recently earned the Service to the Disaster Preparedness and Response Award. Special photo



The American Red Cross of Atlanta recently awarded Bruce the Service to the Disaster Preparedness & Response Award, at the organization’s annual volunteer appreciation event May 2. Bruce was one of 17 volunteers and partners honored for giving their time, money and blood on behalf of the Red Cross mission.

Bruce, a 20-year U.S. Marine veteran, retired from Gulfstream Aerospace in April 2014. In December of the following year, he began volunteering with the Red Cross.

He did so, he said, after learning there was a shortage of active volunteers for the organization at that time.

“There’s always a need, and people that need help,” he said. “If you lost your house, what would you do? Who would you turn to for help?”

Divina Mims-Puckett works as a regional communications manager for American Red Cross of Georgia. She described Bruce as a “leader” and a regular fixture for the organization over the last 18 months.

“He has responded to more than 100 fire calls, often driving across town – multiple times a night – and working 18-hour shifts to help families in need,” Mims-Puckett said. “He also deploys for larger disasters to support sheltering and casework. When Wesley responds to disasters, he does so with compassion, especially for children affected by home fires. He makes sure each child has a stuffed toy to hug while he’s helping their parents think through next steps.”

Mims-Puckett added that Bruce has assisted the American Red Cross in helping to build relationships with emergency partners in Henry County, often helping during the organization’s events dedicated to smoke-alarm installation. She noted that more than 90 percent of American Red Cross workers are volunteers, including more than 1,790 in metro Atlanta. Bruce and other honorees at this month’s appreciation event, she said, were nominated by their peers for their contributions to the Red Cross.

“Volunteers power the Red Cross, making it possible for the organization to prevent and alleviate human suffering in the face of emergencies,” said Mims-Puckett. “On average, 2-3 metro Atlanta families a day experience the compassion of our disaster volunteers. This year, nearly 3,000 of our neighbors with emergency needs for food, clothing, shelter, health and mental health support and recovery guidance, got the help they needed after local disasters, thanks to local volunteers.”

To learn more about volunteer opportunities with the Red Cross or to learn more about how to submit an application to volunteer, visit redcross.org/local/Georgia.