There’s nothing Mike Buckel likes doing more than helping others. He has been volunteering his time and energy since the early 90s, and his priorities are working with kids and anything to do with the police department. Buckel is a member of various boards, the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Flint, the Flint Police Foundation and Sonitrol Crime Stoppers, of which he is the president.
A 26-year employee and currently vice president of sales with security system company, Sonitrol, Buckel has the financial support of the company to get things done. “Sonitrol has supported me and allowed me to give back to the community,” he says. “They understand the value in that. I got involved because we are an anti-crime business, and we are always challenging people here to volunteer.”
Nearest and dearest to his heart, however, is the Boys & Girls Clubs. Every year, during the holiday season, each Boys & Girls Club board member takes a child shopping for Christmas. “The first thing the kids look for is a gift for a relative,” he shares. “ It’s eye-opening and such a good experience. The kids are so polite and accepting of a budget.” The Boys & Girls Clubs also throw a big party where the board has the opportunity to interact with the children. “Boys & Girls Clubs do a lot more than play basketball,” he says with a smile.
Buckel is also involved with the Flint Optimist Club as a past president and board member. The group sponsors an annual lunch (paid for by Sonitrol) to recognize the Police Officer of the Year, as part of the Optimist Club’s Law Day Celebration on the first Monday in May. The honorees are nominated by the heads of various law enforcement agencies. “It’s a big deal for the officers,” Buckel says. “It’s a good opportunity to give back to the Police Department.” This year, several officers were honored, including: Deputy Miguel Mendez, Genesee County Sheriff’s Office; Officers John Boismier, Ronnie Summers and Terry Lewis; Sergeant Charlie Mitchell; Detective Mona Patterson, Flint Police Department; and Trooper Rashad Horton, Michigan State Police. “There is a wide range of reasons why they are nominated,” Buckel explains.
Buckel also connected with other individuals who worked together to get some youths enrolled at Powers Catholic High School. “I get people together to help,” he explains. “That’s what excites me; it’s my strong point. Many people wrote checks to get those kids to Powers.” Carol Jaworski, who nominated Buckel for the “My Hero” story agrees. “I’ve met many compassionate, generous people through my memberships in volunteer, civic and community organizations. Mike stands out because of his ability to unite people from cross-sections of the community. He inspires them, develops their talents, and provides a setting for professional and business groups to do the same for each other.”
Buckel is a bit uncomfortable talking about his volunteerism, as he doesn’t do it for recognition. “Flint’s best kept secret is the many people out there who do a whole lot of service work without any credit for it,” he points out. “They are all great people who are always willing to help, and we band together to get things done.” Buckel believes that everyone can do something to help others. “Writing a check is easy,” he says. “Giving your time is more difficult, but so worthwhile.”
Buckel and his wife, Gloria, live in Fenton and have raised two adopted children.
Photography by Eric Dutro