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Joseph Pereles: "22 Years Of Giving Back"

The Pereles family, 
from left to right: Rachel, David, Joe, Brenda, and Natalie
The Pereles family, from left to right: Rachel, David, Joe, Brenda, and Natalie

Twenty-two years ago, Pete Duffy asked Joe Pereles, “Joe what are you doing to give back to the community?” Joe explained to Pete that he was very busy with his law practice in St. Louis and his family. Pete repeated his question and Joe asked Pete what he would suggest. Pete answered, “The American Red Cross.”

As a result of that conversation, Pete and his wife, Rosemary, who both volunteered with the Red Cross, put Joe in touch with Lori Winters, the head of volunteer services at that time. Joe started his volunteer service by negotiating shelter agreements with St. Louis Area churches and synagogues in order to provide vital shelter arrangements when the need arose. Joe was also interested in assisting with fundraising and helped develop a program where small businesses were asked to “Save the Day” for families needing assistance during times of disaster.

On February 6, 1992, Joe realized how fundamental the Red Cross is to the fabric of our nation. That morning he attended a financial development meeting at the St. Louis Chapter and then headed back to his office. An hour later, Joe received a call that a plane had crashed next to the Drury Inn in Evansville, Indiana. Nine people were killed in the incident. Within two (2) hours after receiving the call Joe arrived at the crash site, and the first thing he saw was a Red Cross emergency response vehicle. He was comforted that the Red Cross was first on the scene helping company employees, hotel guests and the emergency responders on the scene. It was a pivotal moment for Joe.

Joe increased his involvement and became a Board member for the St. Louis Area Chapter in 1995 and eventually served as Board Chair. He has also served on the Board and later Board Chair of the Missouri-Illinois Blood Region. Both Joe and his daughter Natalie are blood donors, with Joe having given over 100 units. Like other Americans, Joe’s family has been involved in the Red Cross. His father volunteered to help fight fires while in college at MIT in Massachusetts and the Red Cross provided meals. His father-in-law volunteers every week at a local blood donation site.

Joe has seen the Red Cross respond to extraordinary events in the past few years. Hurricane Katrina’s impact was eight times larger than any previous natural disaster. After Katrina, Joe was a member of a lessons learned task force that helped to improve Red Cross response methods.

Joe believes that it is important to put your money where your mouth is. “You cannot ask anyone to give time and money” says Joe, “unless you give yourself.” Joe and his wife, Brenda, have had the Red Cross in their estate plan for as long as he can remember. The Pereles’ believe that they should support their “charity of first choice” currently and in the future, and by making a bequest through their revocable living trust, they are doing just that. Joe and Brenda want their planned gift to help the Red Cross to continue to provide vital services.

Joe Pereles is currently Vice President Development and General Counsel for Drury Hotels Company. He has served on the Red Cross National Board of Governors since 2005 and was recently elected to a second three-year term and now serves as a Vice Chair of the Board. He has been involved in helping to reform the governance structure of the national organization and served on the search committee that recruited the Red Cross’s new President, Gail McGovern.

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Disclaimer:

The articles in the issues of the Legacy newsletters are for general illustration purposes only. Information, Gift annuity and tax rates were current as of the time of publication. There can be no guarantee that such information will continue to be accurate in the future. Interested Donors should check with the Gift Planning Office for current rates and deduction amounts before completing their gifts. Calculations of tax deductions will vary based on applicable federal discount rates, which change on a monthly basis. The American National Red Cross is not engaged in rendering legal or tax advisory service. For advice or assistance in specific cases, the services of an attorney or other professional advisor should be obtained. Certain links in this site connect to other Web sites maintained by third parties over whom the American National Red Cross has no control. American National Red Cross makes no representations as to the accuracy or any other aspect of information contained in other Web sites.