Bressler devotes 35 years with Arc
By John Faucher
Lee Bressler is a humble, soft-spoken man who is most often hesitant to take credit for the good things he does.
Those who have volunteered with him have described him as a hero, although Bressler would never accept that title.
“We just try to do the best we can for anybody that needs it,” Bressler said, of his family.
He and his wife, Joyce Bressler, have been married for 58 years. They raised six children, four sons and two daughters, all of whom also pursue their own volunteer opportunities when they can.
Bressler has been volunteering with the Waupaca County Arc for the past 35 years. The Arc serves people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
Bressler has headed up a 16-week bowling program for disabled participants in New London since 1981. His two daughters had helped with the program through their high school years prior to that.
“When the girls went to college they didn’t have much time to help, so that’s when I took over,” said Bressler. In the early 1980s the program was held at Golden Hour Lanes, a bowling alley that was located in the Wolf River Plaza.
By the 1990s the group moved to New London Lanes where they have since stayed.
Every other Saturday, volunteers and bowlers meet for three to four hours from September through March.
On some weeks there can be up to six lanes with over a dozen bowlers cheering one another on.
Some participants take the sport more seriously than others, but regardless of scores, everyone enjoys the activity and camaraderie, as evidenced by the numerous high-fives out on the lanes.
Mark Wolfe of New London has been involved with the group since the early beginnings.
“It makes a lot of kids really happy,” said Diane Wolfe. “My son Mark really enjoys it. I’m so thankful these volunteers are willing to keep it going. I hope it keeps on forever,” she adds.
“Lee has done an awesome job and he’s devoted so much of his time for all these years. It’s just amazing what he really has done,” said Wolfe.
Sheryl Spencer of New London agrees.
“Lee is one of my heroes,” says Spencer.
“Every other Saturday he’s there just like clockwork and the kids respond so well to him. He’s just really a good, good person. He does this quiet work behind the scenes without any sort of recognition for over 30 years. That’s quite a commitment,” said Spencer.
She began bringing her daughter Jessica to the bowling program approximately five years ago.
“Jessica just loved it and I was thrilled to find out we had something like that in town,” said Spencer.
She began helping Bressler on weekends when she attended with her daughter.
Then last year he asked Spencer if she would be interested in taking it over.
“I’m no spring chicken,” said Bressler with a smile.
He’s plans to continue helping occasionally when they need a hand.
Bressler retired from Curwood-Bemis Company in 2000 following a 36-year long career. He said it’s time to take a little more time to rest in his retirement, though he and Joyce plan to stay active in the local polka scene.
He jokingly said that with their increasing age, they’ve reduced their dance moves down to mostly waltzing.
“We do as much as we can, it keeps us in shape a little bit,” said Bressler.
The couple travels to polka events in Clintonville, Symco, Marion, Kaukauna and Neenah when they can. They also share their musical interest at home listening to various programs on the radio.
Bressler is confident Spencer and other volunteers will keep the program going strong and he’s thankful for the assistance New London Lanes has offered through the years.
“Otherwise people can sometimes get shoved to the side and not have the opportunities to enjoy the things we do. If a person can help it along and volunteer, that’s a good thing,” said Bressler.
“There are always people everywhere that can use a little help. The most important thing is to get involved in your community and find out where volunteers are needed.”
He also recommends folks contact their county offices to find out more about volunteer opportunities through the county.