Their faces may not end up on stadium video scoreboards or souvenir T-shirts, but drum corps volunteers are as dedicated to the marching music activity as the featured performers on the football field. Throughout the winter and into the summer, these tireless helpers put in hundreds—even thousands—of hours, putting their lives on hold to do everything from cook dinner to drive across the country, giving back to the drum corps organizations they love. After a selection process by a panel of Friends of DCI members, the following individuals will be honored this August at the DCI World Championships in Indianapolis as the 2013 Volunteers of the Year. Congratulations to these and the countless others who help drum corps get down the road each and every summer!
Bruce Chaffee, Racine Scouts
Bruce Chaffee began his marching career at age nine, with the Racine Scouts (known as the Racine Boy Scouts, and later the Racine Explorer Scouts during his time with the corps), before he began working as a mechanic and finished marching at age 18. Chaffee did not, however, leave the activity behind him, and instead volunteered as a teacher for brass players. By age 25, Chaffee was a volunteer bus driver for the Racine Scouts, using his knowledge as a mechanic to repair not only his corps' bus, but also those of other corps. "Every corps has a 'go-to' person; someone that you 'go-to' when something needs to be built, fixed, created out of next to nothing ... a person who is always willing to lend a hand driving a bus, helping with fundraising activities, or mentoring corps members," wrote Racine Scouts Manager Andrea Birbilis in Chaffee's nomination letter. "That 'go to' person for us is Bruce Chaffee." "He is never too busy to sit and talk with corps members who are homesick or who may doubt their ability to get through the summer," Birbilis wrote. 'No matter what he might have going with his own projects, he is there when you need him and usually there before you realize how much you need him. He embodies what volunteerism is all about."
Erik Haelman, Pioneer
Erik Haelman has worked to support the drum corps activity since 1984. He began his service with 16 years of volunteer work for the Phantom Legion Drum Corps, and now works as a volunteer bus driver for Pioneer, a position he has held since 2004. Not only does he drive for three weeks of the corps' summer tour, but he also serves as a driver during the corps' monthly rehearsal camps and for the Pioneer Winter Drumline. "Mr. Haelman is not one to stand around when there is work to be done!" Pioneer Director Roman Blenski wrote in Haelman's nomination. "He freely and willingly offers his time, help, and talents whenever needed or asked for." Other volunteer responsibilities that Haelman retains are keeping track of corps member payments, coordinating finances, and assisting with fundraising. "There is no one more dedicated to do anything for the benefit of the corps members than Erik," Blenski wrote.
Frank Milina, Blue Devils B
Since his four children joined the Blue Devils organization in 1969, Frank Milina has acted as an active volunteer, beginning as the color guard equipment manager. Through the years, he has held the position of Assistant Manager of the Blue Devils Junior Drum & Bell Corps (1972) and later, President of the Blue Devils B Board of Directors (1974). When his children toured with the Blue Devils A corps, Milina served for several years as their volunteer bus driver, then became a manager of Blue Devils B. As manager, he played a large role in developing the program into what it is today. "Frank has a way with new parents, getting them involved with his wit, sense of humor and charm," Blue Devils B Director Rick Odello wrote in his nomination letter. "He is a leader that tells it like it is, with a light hearted, entertaining approach." The number of roles that Milina has filled spans a wide range, from acting as chairman of a parade in Concord and the announcer at the annual Blue Devils Family Day event, to working as the head cook on tour. "Frank is a character who would be hard to do without in so many ways," Odello wrote. "He has done it all, much more that the Blue Devils or the activity itself could ever ask. Frank's recognition as a volunteer in this activity is long overdue."