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People who make a difference: Joseph Scala

Community member, volunteer – Alzheimer’s Association and American Cancer Society

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December 16, 2022

NORTHEAST WISCONSIN – Even from a young age, Joseph Scala said he knew he wanted to give back to organizations that personally touched his life.

“(It’s important to) find something you’re passionate about, something you want to be involved with,” he said. “In my case, I was brought to some of those because of my own personal experiences.”

Scala – the business development manager at Metalcraft Automation Group in Appleton – said his lifelong commitment to serve first started in his teen years, when his father got sick.

“My father developed and passed from cancer when I was 16,” he said. “(It) sort of gravitated me toward volunteerism with the ACS.”

When his father was diagnosed, Scala said he started researching the disease to learn more about what that meant, which sparked something inside him.

“They’re a huge part of my life both personally and from a volunteerism standpoint,” he said. “That’s kind of where it starts. I mean, my sort of commitment to volunteerism started there, just because that’s what life threw me. Most people who are passionate about a cause or whatever it happens to be, is because of some sort of personal connection they had to it.”

Similarly, Scala said his involvement with the Alzheimer’s Association began the same way.

“My mom developed Alzheimer’s later in life,” he said. “And again, as is the case with so many people, when something like that comes into your life, you start to do some reading, you start to go to different groups and get involved and learn as much as you can. I eventually connected with the folks here in Fox Valley and the Alzheimer’s Association, since about 2013-14 has been a huge part of my life.”

Scala said he’s worked with the American Cancer Society for 40 years, and the Alzheimer’s Association for 10.

Giving back in your own way
As has the organizations Scala has volunteered with have been connected to his personal experiences, so too has his form of volunteering.

Singing from a young age, Scala said much of his giving comes in the form of singing – singing the national anthem to be exact.

“In addition to fundraising and promotion, I’ve had the opportunity to sing for numerous events,” he said. “One of the most gratifying things about doing the anthem at a lot of these events is you’re front and center, so people recognize you and then when things break up, they’ll come and talk to you. They want to share their stories. They want to hug you. They want to talk to you about their experiences. They want to hear about yours. I mean, that’s the biggest thing.”

Joseph Scala (center) said he has spent more than a decade working for local military organizations, the Menasha VFW Post 2126 being one of them. Submitted Photo

For the past 15 years, Scala said he has sung at games for the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers, Green Bay Gamblers, Green Bay Rockers and both the men’s and women’s University of Wisconsin-Green Bay (UWGB) basketball teams.

Just last week, he sang the national anthem before the UWGB women’s basketball team took on the Wisconsin Badgers.

Scala said some of the connections he’s made through volunteering have led to other opportunities – including his involvement with Fleet Farm’s Hometown Hero in partnership with the Gamblers.

He said he appreciates the opportunity to help shine a light on others in the community through the program – nominating those he knows who have either served in the military or made an impact in the community.

Those nominated are featured on the scoreboard and given four tickets to a future Gamblers game, as well as a Fleet Farm gift card.

Other volunteering
Scala said his “second tier” of volunteer work is with the Fox Valley Veterans Council and the Menasha VFW Post 2126 – which he first connected with through one of his national anthem performances.

For the last 12 years, he said he’s sung at the council’s Veterans Day Remembrance event and has worked on some fundraising for them as well.

Scala said his work with the Menasha VFW Post 2126 is similar to his work with the council.

He said he also helps out with the VFW’s Veteran’s Day dinner every year.

Scala said his work with these organizations has led to many other organizations of several different causes reaching out to him, such as the Huntington’s Disease Society of America (HDSA), Multiple sclerosis (MS) and Crohn’s.

And though time limits his capacity to get involved with day-to-day fundraising efforts, Scala said he does whatever he can to help out. 
“(My involvement is sometimes) limited almost predominately to doing the anthem at their events,” he said.

Humbled to be recognized
Scala said giving back to the community is not something he does to be recognized but doesn’t take it lightly when he is – which has included a corporate volunteer of the year and outstanding fundraising volunteer recognitions.

He said, “if you take family out of it, and maybe career,” receiving the corporate volunteer award was one of the highlights of his entire life. 

“There are so many people doing so many great things,” he said. “To be singled out was amazing.”

And, while Scala said the experience was “indescribable” – especially with his nominators at both the Alzheimer’s Association and ACS beside him – it’s also important to acknowledge how he was able to be there in the first place.

“Without the opportunities (provided to me by the organizations I’m involved with), there would be no recognition,” he said. “That always sticks with me with regard to any sort of recognition.”

The importance of it all
Scala said he is a big believer of “to whom much is given, much is expected,” especially in the work he does.

“If these organizations and these people are willing to put me out there and have that confidence and trust in me, (then) I have a huge commitment to them to try to present myself in the right way and to treat people the right way,” he said. “One of the things my mother always used to say was, whether I was five, or 15 or 55, even if I don’t have much, show what I got.”

In turn, Scala said he encourages others to give back to their community by supporting organizations that are important to them.
“I’m sort of a tireless barker,” he said. “I’ve been in sales management for the last 30 years. I’m used to pursuing opportunities and trying to bring them to light.”

Joseph Scala (center) at the 2014 Walk to End Alzheimer’s at Fox Cities Stadium. Submitted Photo

Scala said he sees it as a privilege to connect with others who have reached out to him inquiring about getting involved.
He acknowledges it can be intimidating if you don’t know where to start.

“Everything doesn’t have to be grand and glorious,” he said. “If you have an hour, if you have two hours, if you have 200 hours, spend that time… find something you want to be involved with.”

At the end of the day, Scala said his volunteer and other work stems from his highest callings of being a “husband, brother and son.”

“Those are the things that are important to me, the other things are just awesome stuff I get to do and be a part of,” he said. “The thing that’s really important to me is that my parents are proud of me.”

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