MUSCATINE, Iowa–At Christmastime as a child, Mike Ruby remembers seeing the Salvation Army’s distinctive red kettles around his home town. When he grew old enough to work a paper route, he would make a point of dropping some coins in to help the organization out. At the time, he had no idea how big a role the Salvation Army would come to play in his life.
For the past 20 years now, Ruby has volunteered as a bell ringer. Despite the cold, Ruby felt cheered by the number of generous Muscatine residents willing to donate and by knowing that he was helping the Salvation Army of Muscatine County support their numerous year round programs. In 2018, Ruby’s friend, Esther Dean, invited him to attend a Salvation Army Advisory Board meeting to learn more about its work. Not long afterwards, the board invited him to join and he accepted.
Over the last two years, Ruby enjoyed growing more active with the Salvation Army, gathering silent auction items for their annual recognition dinner, helping organize an impromptu indoor Halloween event in 2019 due to cold temperatures, serving as the 2019 Christmas Chair, and helping to raise funds for the Salvation Army of Muscatine’s giant red kettle, which appears at holiday events around the county. He takes great pride in helping the Salvation Army continue their mission: “The Salvation Army staff and volunteers have a strong commitment to serve folks throughout our county who are facing multiple challenges. It’s rewarding to be part of that effort.”
When Ruby learned the Advisory Board selected him as their chair, he felt awed by both the honor and responsibility of the position. “Serving others is a major part of living a meaningful life and this is a wonderful opportunity to serve,” he said, adding, “It will be quite a challenge, especially during these uncertain times with the pandemic, but I’m up for the challenge.” Ruby also expressed joy in getting to work further with current board members and Lieutenants Greg and Liz Bock to guide the Salvation Army through these difficult times and emerge stronger than ever.
As chair, Ruby has many goals for the Salvation Army in the months and years ahead. In the short term, Ruby plans to focus on finding ways to help the Red Kettle Campaign raise its annual goal of $190,000, both through staffing kettles in person and through finding creative ways for the Rescue Christmas Campaign to raise money before the holiday season. Looking to the future, Ruby plans to help educate Muscatine about the Salvation Army’s work both locally and nationally, recruit more diverse board members to help the board reflect the makeup of the community, and to make sure that all of the Salvation Army’s outreach programs remain viable.
In addition to his work with the Salvation Army, Ruby continues to volunteer with several other area community groups. A current member of the Muscatine Rotary Club, Ruby also serves as district finance and budget chair, fundraises for the annual CROP Walk, and participates in volunteer opportunities through Wesley United Methodist Church. Previously, Ruby and his wife, Jo Anne, both volunteered and worked for United Marriage Encounter.