Waupaca officer honored with CFCU-sponsored RUBY award

RUBY award Waupaca Officer Zube headshot with Waupaca Area Chamber of Commerce logo and Ruby Award logo.Over the past decade with the Waupaca Police Department, Officer Wes Zube has demonstrated an exceptional level of care and compassion for anyone that crosses his path while serving and protecting his hometown.

Zube has been especially passionate about Mental Health and Suicide Prevention during his three years as a police-school liaison officer and since 2020 as a patrol sergeant. Among his roles and responsibilities are: field training officer, peer support supervisor, weapons supervisor, less lethal munitions instructor and officer wellness instructor.

In recognition of his ongoing efforts, he was recently selected as the Waupaca Area Chamber of Commerce’s recipient of the 2022 RUBY Award, sponsored in part by Community First Credit Union. The honor was created in 2000 to Recognize Upward, Bright and Young (RUBY) individuals age 40 and under who are making a difference in the community.
A Waupaca native and a 2008 high school graduate, his parents were both heavily involved in the community as Waupaca school teachers. “My dad was also on Waupaca Fire Department, so my parents really taught us as children to help others, how to treat people, and the importance of giving back,” Zube said.

His nominator wrote that Wes routinely uses “his training and personal experience to personally connect to people in crisis and assist them through their darkest times.”

Wes’ personal experience with trauma came in September 2017 when he faced a series of difficult losses, challenges in his own life. The day before his daughter turned 2, he gave CPR to a 3-month-old who had stopped breathing. His efforts were unsuccessful. The next weekend, Zube got married but three days later his older brother – his best man – took his own life. Tired, confused, sad and upset, he had difficulties processing his brother’s death and decided he was going to quit police work. 

Finding his purpose

Zube credits his chief and fellow officers with supporting him and encouraging him to seek counseling, which made a huge difference for him. “After a couple of sessions of professional counseling, I knew I wanted to use what I went through to help others,” he said. “I started specializing in mental health and have attended hundreds of hours of training on everything from PTSD to Peer Support. I now travel to other departments, professional organizations, and public venues, where I tell my story from start to finish in great detail for the first hour, followed by a second hour of self-care techniques, stress management, and encouragement of receiving mental health support.”

Zube added, “I believe that if hearing my story can help at least one person each time I teach get the help they need, at least something positive is coming from the tragedy my family went through.”
Zube and his wife Lisa live in Waupaca with their three children and have been Community First members for several years.

Back in March 2021, Zube was asked to escort a Waupaca High School senior as she completed an 18-mile run on her 18th birthday to raise suicide awareness and funds for the Suicide Prevention Coalition. The student said hearing Zube’s story of mental health struggles “encouraged her to take care of herself and to pay it forward.”

2021 RUBY award recipient Josh Pauling, who presented the 2022 award, said, “We chose Wes because he demonstrates a great balance between work and community involvement. Wes is also involved in countless organizations and continues to bring awareness to mental health, which is often avoided or not talked about at all. Wes is the type of person that understands that if you want to take care of others around you or in the community that you need to first take care of yourself.”

The other 2022 RUBY award nominees were: Maren Cardinal (Danes Hall of Waupaca), Greg Grohman (Waupaca Area Chamber of Commerce), Danielle Halverson (Little Fat Gretchen’s), Arthur Lisogor (Waupaca Rental Center), Kayla Portman (Gowey Abstract & Title Co.) and Amanda Vestergaard (Sulten Belly).

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