“I'll always call in and say, if you don't have anyone, I'm ready.”
There are very few people who are willing to step up at a moment’s notice, who readily immerse themselves in service to others and who see challenges not as obstacles to overcome, but as opportunities to be seized. Jerome Fontenette is one of these people.
Jerome began volunteering with the American Red Cross of San Diego/Imperial Counties in September 2017 after becoming aware of their need for more volunteers to assist with Hurricane Irma disaster relief efforts. Despite not knowing many details about the Red Cross at the time, Jerome knew that he wanted to help in some way. He began taking trainings with the Red Cross and once he understood the extensive role that the Red Cross plays during disasters, he knew without a doubt that he wanted to further his involvement. Although he hasn’t ended up deploying yet, Jerome has found the perfect place for himself at the Red Cross close to home.
Jerome works primarily in the Logistics Department where his duties include everything from delivering trailers full of cots and blankets to shelters, to making sure the warehouse is stocked with relief supplies, to surveying containers of shelter supplies throughout the county to make sure they’re stocked with materials needed to effectively run a shelter during a disaster. He also fills in across other departments and takes on various roles wherever someone is needed. Recently, Jerome has taken on everything from delivering water to a mobile home park that had a broken water supply pipe to assisting the Service to the Armed Forces (SAF) team with traveling around San Diego County distributing holiday gifts to military families in need. Jerome truly does it all!
Jerome is often one of the first people to call in after seeing an email requesting a volunteer. “I'll always call in and say, if you don't have anyone, I'm ready,” he says.
Jerome embraces challenges with open arms. Regardless of how difficult a job may seem, he never thinks of it as a burden—a result of working as a school district building service supervisor. His previous job taught him how to prepare for emergencies, solve complex problems and be a leader that people can rely on. He took a lot of pride in his work there. Similarly, he gets a lot of satisfaction in his role with the Red Cross. And as much as his help is appreciated by those who receive it, Jerome also enjoys the personal satisfaction of volunteering. “It's beneficial to my ego and to my core beliefs,” he says.
Jerome’s most memorable Red Cross “mission moment” happened on his recent trip to help with the SAF holiday gift delivery project, because of the smiles on the kids’ faces. When children received the presents, their faces lit up like Christmas trees. Jerome says he loves the fact that he has the power to impact people and bring a little joy into their lives.
With compassionate and dedicated volunteers like Jerome, the Red Cross is able to support people and provide help and hope when it is needed most.
For more information on volunteering with the American Red Cross, visit redcross.org/volunteer.