As Commander of the Calimesa Citizens on Patrol, Ed Clark really appreciates a man or woman who is always there when he needs them.
It is what he likes most about volunteer Bruce Toloski.
“He is reliable and available,” Clark said about his partner on patrol for the past four years and the man that he chose as Citizen on Patrol for 2019.
“I don’t know the full story,” Toloski said about why Clark selected him for the honor. “I guess he found after my four years that I was really meeting the needs of the city and the program. I always answer my phone, answer questions and do stuff, and he really appreciated that and gave me recognition.”
If you know Toloski, it really is no surprise that he continues to step up to help people. Sadly, and somewhat ironically, he is able to volunteer for the Citizens on Patrol because he was forced to retire as an agent with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service because he stopped to help someone.
In 2003, Toloski was on his way home from work in the Los Angeles area when he spied an overturned vehicle in the fast lane of the 710 Freeway. With no first responders there yet, he stopped to help the driver.
He was able to get the driver to safety, but in the process, Toloski was hit by a drunk driver. He spent the next four months in hospitals and rehabilitation centers learning to walk again. And while he was able to achieve that through hard work, the seizures that resulted from the accident did not go away, forcing him to retire in 2005.
“I couldn’t work anymore,” he said, because of the seizures and head injuries.
In 2005, the Toloskis moved to the Yucaipa-Calimesa area to be closer to his wife’s family.
“It’s a good place for education and kind of a more mellow lifestyle,” he said about the move.
Not wanting to sit idle, Toloski looked for volunteer opportunities. He taught driver’s license renewal classes at the Beaumont Library and explored Citizen on Patrols in Yucaipa, where he lives, and Beaumont and Banning before settling on Calimesa.
“Those volunteer positions (in nearby cities) might call upon you to do some things that maybe I, with possible seizures, can’t,” he said, explaining that was not the case in Calimesa. “The Lord has a way.”
He applied at Calimesa City Hall to volunteer for Citizens on Patrol after finding out it was OK to live outside of the city limits. And well, almost every Wednesday morning since then, Toloski can be spotted patrolling the streets of Calimesa.
“If there is a public festival or party or meeting or whatever, you can be there to help with security or whatever is needed at that event,” he said. “I really like dealing with events and the people at those events.”
Crowd control at public events, directing traffic at accidents and assisting the homeless are just a few of the duties of the Citizens on Patrol.
“Sometimes contacting homeless people not being tough with them, but just explaining stuff that they have to know in reference to the city and living in the city. It is just something that we have to do,” Toloski said. “I am comfortable with this stuff because I used to be in law enforcement and dealing with people has been part of my life forever.”
“As Ed knows … if I am called on to work the Christmas parade or stuff like that I am right there helping out and happy,” he said.
While family is Toloski’s first priority, those closest to him also know if someone needs help, he will be there.
“It is important for me,” he said, “to be around to help out Calimesa.”
“He’s always there when I need him,” Clark said.