Madera welcomes new Rescue Mission Executive Director
Wendy Alexander//The Madera Tribune
Madera Rescue Mission executive director, Jesse Chavez, accepts a donation of toys from Cali-Livin Car Club in December. The toys were distributed locally.
Although he’s been a part of the Madera Rescue Mission since September of 2019, Jesse Chavez officially took over as Executive Director taking over for former Pastor Mike Unger in July of 2020.
“It is rewarding to see people’s lives changed when you introduce them to a loving and caring savior in Jesus Christ,” Chavez said. “As executive director now since July of 2020, I’ve had the opportunity to keep the main thing, which is that Jesus Christ loves you. So, we get the privilege of sharing with our guests this the Gospel. It is a life changing experience that many of our guests want and need.”
Chavez not only brings a strong sense of virtue, but the new Rescue Mission director brings with him family dynamic that fits the mold that Madera needs.
Married for 43 years with three children — Jesse, Celeste and Aaron — with a total of nine grandchildren and more than 120 people in his family alone, Chavez comes from a large family tree and with the Madera Rescue Mission, Chavez plans on showing the same care and affection to his community members.
But it was a run in with the law that changed his life and focus forever.
“Yes, I have served since surrendering my life to the Lord on Oct. 31, 1998 in the backseat of a police car for driving drunk. That was the last day I drank any alcohol, 23 years ago,” Chavez said. “I have tried to help those in need of breaking their addictions. I served in my church in Milpitas (San Jose area) and then I served at City Team Ministries in San Jose. There was always someone to help and they did get help. So, this is my focus is to help people find God’s way.”
Chavez and his wife, Sylvia, were born and raised in Reedley before moving to the Bay Area in 1980. Chavez purchased a five-acre ranch outside of Madera where the pair have their hands full, on top of the community work they do.
“We have two dogs, two goats, three cats, three rabbits, 12 chickens,” Chavez said. “My wife and I lived in the Bay Area for 40 years so we are still kind of city slickers on a ranch. We enjoy it because our family and grandkids come over and enjoy the ranch life.
“Most of our families are from Fresno and Reedley area, so we get to see them often. Our hobbies are yard sales, flea markets, going to the coast, or just driving up to the mountains and hanging out with family and friends.”
Chavez always had a connection with the Madera community through his daughter and son-in-law even when they lived in the Bay Area. Chavez would visit from time to time before moving.
On his way back home with his wife, Chavez stopped by the Madera Rescue Mission. A part of him knew he would be back.
“On one of the visits watching my grandson, Isaac, play football, I drove him home and we drove by the Madera Rescue Mission. I stopped and told him that one day I would be serving here,” Chavez said. “And, now I do.”
Chavez and his wife, Sylvia, moved to the community in March of 2018 and have made the area their home ever since. The Madera Rescue Mission caught his eye those years ago and now, Chavez leads the effort moving forward.
It’s only been a few years since his arrival full time, but that hasn’t stopped Chavez from taking on an active role within the community. Outside of the Madera Rescue Mission, Chavez is beginning to branch out in the Madera community.
“Well, we plan to be involved with our church The Well Madera, serve at the Madera Rescue Mission and now a Rotary Member. We want to know more people and the businesses to see how we can partner with them and their needs,” Chavez said. “There is a great opportunity to serve here in Madera, you can get to meet lots of people. It’s small enough to know a lot of people and businesses, but the needs are many.”
The Madera Rescue Mission itself works to house homeless men, women and single parents with children. The mission provides warm beds, hot showers and hot meals, while also giving those in need a chance at securing warm clothes.
“We provide Chapel services where they can hear bible passages from various speakers on how Jesus Christ can change their lives, if they let him and we can assist them with legal appointments and doctor’s appointments,” Chavez said. “Often times they do not know where to go to get real help but we will help them.”