On September 1st, Carmel Valley businessman, David Perez, wiped the tears from his eyes. He was devastated by the images from the Gulf Coast. He listened to our government officials saying everything would be fine, but he didn’t believe them. He turned off the tv and decided to act.
He was going to help those affected by the hurricane. Initially, he was going to make a donation like the rest of us, but when he saw the ineptitude and idiocy, he had to do more. He charted airplanes and brought 384 people from the Gulf Coast to California. This was only the beginning of the one man relief effort.
Perez then sought donations of food, medicine, water, and whatever else the people needed. He collected 380 tons worth and got a fleet of cargo planes, jets, barges, and other forms of transportation to get it to the places in Louisiana and Mississippi that needed it the most. To date, he has shipped almost 500 tons of goods to the region. He has also spent a quarter of a million dollars of his own money to run the operation.
Perez knows what it’s like to be down and out. When he was a child, his family left Morocco for America. His mother kicked his father out when he was young. The family worked together to stay afloat. He started his own business at 18. In his early 20s he was becoming financially successful, but he watched it all slip away. In a short span of time, his girlfriend was killed in an automobile accident–he was driving. He spent 9 months in jail. Then watched the business he created fail.
That was 1987. He is now 42 and wiser. He’s had six businesses since then. Now he runs Surge Global Energy.
He feels a need for atonement to make up for his youthful indiscretions. On the Ed Schultz radio show, he broke down while retelling the story of his girlfriend’s death and when reporting what he saw when he visited the Gulf Coast after the hurricane.
Initially, Perez worked through the proper channels including the Red Cross. But, progress was moving too slow. People were still starving three weeks after the hurricane and flooding. He decided to form his own foundation called the 2 Life 18 Foundation so that he could help the people directly without all the bureaucratic red tape. They have sent supplies to the St. Barnard Parish and will work with Baton Rouge next. He has extended more their supplies to those who has helped. He has also provided houses, cars, and jobs so the people can get back on their feet.
His passion and can do attitude has helped him save lives in the Gulf Coast when larger organizations and government agencies couldn’t get passed the starting gate. With another hurricane making it’s way towards the gulf, relief efforts need to be stepped up and the work of people like Perez become even more important.
You can learn more about Perez at his website: 2 Life 18 Foundation
[Photograph credit: NASA images courtesy Jeff Schmaltz, MODIS Land Rapid Response Team at NASA GSFC]