By Marshall V. King
When Toby Crowley showed up in Elkhart County for a $11 an hour job, he was an unemployed veteran without a place to live. He had a duffel bag and an old Chrysler Sebring. And he was willing to work.
Crowley rose from that job his brother offered him on a chassis line at Lippert Components Inc. in 2005 to become general manager of the window division. He’s a leader not only in the company, but in the community.
A lot of nights, he’s behind the bar at the Goshen Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 985. He’s glad to get you a beer or ice water, but he’s also helping in other ways. He’s the quartermaster handling the finances for the post. He volunteers in the kitchen and helps plan events such as golf outings and trips to Wrigley Field.
Crowley, a retired Marine who served tours in Afghanistan and Iraq, started volunteering at the VFW through Acts of Service, the program Lippert started to get its employees into the community to give back. Other volunteers have also gotten involved to help the veterans.
Growing up in central Michigan, Crowley learned how to work hard and when he moved to Elkhart County, he started adding to his skill set. He became a welder and then a manager. Now there are 715 people working on his team and Crowley enjoys serving them as a leader. He also gives back by serving on the board of 5 Star Life, a program aimed at helping students develop character, leadership and academic skills, and he helps raise money for the Elkhart County 4-H Fair.
“Being so involved with so many non-profits I really get to see how generous the community is and how good-hearted people are. They really want to help,” he said.
He tells stories about his time in Michigan, but he no longer refers to it as “back home.”
Elkhart County is where he lives and works, where he sees people coming together. “I definitely consider this home now,” he said.
Marshall V. King is a Goshen-based free-lance writer. He wrote this on behalf of Vibrant Communities.
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