“If you are blessed, you are called to be a blessing.”
John Deases called on this philosophy to explain what motivated him to help a co-worker he barely knew.
Deases is a sergeant with the Douglas County Department of Corrections who has worked at the county jail for 20 years. Yasser Gonzales is a relatively new employee at the jail. Deases had worked with Gonzales only once when he learned his colleague had lost everything to flooding in Bellevue.
The family had only a couple of hours to grab whatever they could and get out of their house, said Kelley Deases, John’s wife, who sent his name to The World-Herald so he could be recognized as a flood hero.
Deases got busy. He reached out to Gonzales to see if he was OK, and asked how to help.
“He begins to tell me that everything was a loss. He sent a picture of his house and that was what really broke my heart,” John Deases said. “He said he has to be strong but this is the hardest thing he’s ever had to go through.”
After the floodwaters came, Gonzales, his wife and their three kids, ages 5, 9 and 16, were living with his mom in one room of her house.
Not sure if the Gonzales family’s plight was common knowledge among colleagues, Deases notified jail director Michael Myers about their needs.
Within a couple of hours, signs seeking clothes, including the sizes of family members, went up throughout the workplace. John and Kelley stuffed two bags full of nice clothing for the effort.
A couple of days later, a corridor at the jail was filled with boxes of clothes and other items. Many co-workers also donated gift cards.
Deases also arranged for the employee benevolence fund so Gonzales could receive the standard gift of $200 and offered the family free lodging in a rental property he owns.
“I began to think outside the box. If I were in his shoes, what would I need,” Deases said.
He nominated Gonzales to receive funding from the congregation at Calvary Christian Church, where he and Kelley are members, through a weekly one-for-one giving challenge, and contacted the American Red Cross shelter at the church to see what services were available.
Kelley Deases said her family is used to volunteering and donating through Calvary and the Heartland Hope Mission.
But, she said, “John wanted to reach out to a specific family, help meet their urgent needs and be there for them for the long haul.”
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Bartender donates tips for flood relief
Courtney McGann is lucky enough that none of her friends or family were affected by this month’s devastating floods. Still, she knew she wanted to help.
Last week, the part-time bartender at LIV Lounge, 2279 S. 67th St., decided she would donate all of her tips from her upcoming Saturday shift to flood relief efforts. She had hoped to raise $500, and with some help from another bartender and a barback, she met her goal.
The owners of LIV Lounge matched McGann’s donation dollar for dollar, sending in $1,000 to the American Red Cross.
“It felt great. I definitely thought it went over really well,” McGann said. “It was a little bit that ended up making a big difference when it all came together.”
World-Herald staff writer Blake Ursch contributed to this report.