Focus On: Larry Bales

July 11, 2019

Battle Creek is filled with community members who are committed to creating a city where we can all live, work, and play.

This month, we’re focusing on two Battle Creek veterans who are committed to helping other vets in our community. Without the help of these two, local veterans may not have access to basic resources and necessities for their everyday life.

meet larry bales

Larry Bales served in the Armed Forces for 24 years before retiring as First Sergeant in 1993. He is also the founder of Veterans Helping Veterans West Michigan (VHVWM). Larry runs VHVWM with Sarah Pauley, who served in the Army from 2005-2018 while stationed Afghanistan and Iraq.

Although they served in different wars, one virtue that stuck with both of them was the concept that service people always help comrades in need. In fact, this concept is what motivated Larry to help veterans in the Battle Creek area when he started VHVWM seven years ago. Although the organization is less than a decade old, VHVWM was able to help over 2,500 people in the Battle Creek area in 2018 alone.

creating a culture of vitality

Seven years ago, Larry was walking with a friend who served with the Marines at a Veterans Affairs office (VA) when the two saw a flyer on the ground. It read, “Our vets need help.”

This one simple sentence inspired Larry. His 24 years of service taught him that he should al-ways help a comrade in need, so that’s what he started to do.

From that day on, Larry began collecting useful items and donating them to the local VA. It didn’t take long for him to realize that as soon as items arrived, they were gone. Clearly there was a massive need in his community. To help out, Larry purchased two semi-truck trailers. The extra space allowed him to store and offer more items than when he’d simply dropped them off at the VA in the past.

However, it wasn’t long before the two trailers became cramped with items. Luckily, Larry was able to find a small building with warehouse space. With help from the Sunshine Rotary Club, he leased the building until it was up for demolition.

Although VHVWM didn’t have a building anymore, that didn’t deter Larry. The organization operated out of a few storage units Larry was able to rent another space through a member of the Burma Center.

Now, Larry and Sarah run the operation together. First, they connect with various organizations to learn who needs their help. Then they talk to the veteran to learn what they can do to help. Once VHVWM knows what items will be most beneficial to the vet in question, they load them into their truck and deliver them to the veteran’s house.

keeping the momentum going

VHVWM has been doing a lot to help Battle Creek veterans in the last few years. However, they need your help to continue their work. The easiest way to give back is by donating items or volunteering with VHVWM. You can call them at (269) 420-7638 or visit their website to learn more.

Please remember that all items must be clean, serviceable, and have no rips or tears. All donations are appreciated. After all, every item helps out veterans in our community.

We love sharing the stories of those in Battle Creek who are moving us forward by creating a culture of vitality. These leaders commit to creating spaces in our community where every-one can live, work, and play. Do you know somebody who we should Focus On? Click here to send us their name, contact information, and to tell us what they’re doing to make a difference.

Want to help us move Battle Creek forward? Join us! Click here to get involved!

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