Red Cross Volunteer Dedicates His Service to His Son


California Resident Helping at a Shelter in Columbus County

Jess Chairez doesn’t mind being called Joe.  After all, the name “Joe” is spelled in large letters on the front of the hat he wore while working at the Red Cross shelter at West Columbus High School in Cerro Gordo.

On the back of his hat are the words “Joe’s Dad.”

Joe was the name of Jess’ son, a son who died of a brain aneurysm at age 24.  A few years later, Hurricane Katrina slammed into the U. S. Gulf Coast, and from his home in Sacramento, California, Jess said he heard Joe calling him to volunteer for the Red Cross.

“He was an organ donor, and I actually got to lay my head on the chest of the man who got Joe’s heart,” Jess said. “Words can’t describe the emotion I felt.”

Watching Jess work with residents of Fair Bluff, who were forced from their homes by flood waters in the wake of Hurricane Matthew, it is evident that HIS heart is 100% in his work.  He helps make the time residents spend in the shelter as pleasant as possible, never forgetting the reason he’s there.

“This is for Joe.  It’s what he’d want me to do.”

More than 90% of the Red Cross workforce is made up of volunteers, who respond to disasters big and small, from flooding to home fires.  If you’d like to help people in their darkest hours, log onto to begin the volunteer process.

Photo Credit: Jim McIntyre/American Red Cross





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