FAIRFAX (KPIX 5) – A retired Fairfax man is volunteering seven days a week, coming up with new and creative ways to help his North Bay neighbors stay afloat.
82-year-old Jack Hayes spent his career as a Sonoma County schools superintendent, and executive director of the California Interscholastic Federation that oversees high school sports.
"After retirement, I had an idea of what I wanted to do," he said.
Hayes started volunteering 17 years ago.
"I wanted to be hands-on," Hayes explained.
Hayes heads a group from Saint Rita's Catholic Church in Fairfax, part of the Saint Vincent de Paul Society's conference.
"There were families out there that needed assistance," he said.
The group serves Fairfax, San Anselmo, San Geronomo Valley and beyond.
They deliver weekly food bags to dozens of families, help pay for utility bills and gas, and sometimes provide flowers, furniture and clothes to people and nonprofits.
Hayes helped about 50 families apply for $85,000 in rental assistance they've received during the COVID-19 pandemic.
And he insists on going to visit those he helps.
"And we can listen. And also we'll see needs that they don't ask about," Hayes explained.
To pay for those needs, Hayes has organized a Free Throw Championship the last 12 years.
The fundraiser generated more than $175,000 to rescue at-risk women, families and senior citizens on the brink of homelessness.
The assistance has been a blessing to Linda Howard who was forced to take custody of her two young grandkids.
She is grateful beyond words, not just for their food, clothes and tutoring help in the last decade, but for Hayes' generous, non-judgmental spirit.
"It's not like 'You've failed so I'm here.' It's 'Let me help you. I want to help you, don't worry about it,'" she said, choking back tears.
Thank you notes posted in Jack's office underscore what his service means to families.
Volunteer Mike Marovich says Hayes has soul and heart.
"I'll use something that Mother Teresa once said, 'We can't do great things, but we can do small things with great love.' That defines Jack," Marovich said.
Hayes, who's been married 59 years, with six children and 13 grandchildren, says serving others is simply something he enjoys.
"Maybe it's trite to say, but it's true: You get more back than you give," concluded Hayes.
So for tirelessly meeting the needs of his North Bay community, this week's Jefferson Award in the Bay Area goes to Jack Hayes.
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