Community steps up to help Dobbels

Amy Carton
Jesse Dobbels (right) stands with his sister, Jaci Dobbels, outside the trailer they shared before the May 13 flood that evacuated the Maple City Trailer Park.

Jesse Dobbels, who always is helping people in the community, felt what it was like to be on the receiving end of the community’s generosity when his home in the Maple City Trailer Park was damaged during the May 13 flood.

“It means a lot that the community is helping,” said Dobbels, who has received money and furniture donations. “I have lived here all my life and have helped a lot of people and now this great community is backing me up on this.”

The morning of the flood, Dobbels, who shared a trailer with his sister, Jaci Dobbels, woke to a phone call from his neighbor telling him he needed to get out because the flood waters were coming up and his steps were gone.

He grabbed a few dry clothes, his phone and charger and walked to his mother’s (Leona Dobbels) trailer, where Jaci was staying at the time of the flood.

“I jumped into the water, which was waist high and walked up to mom’s, whose trailer was not affected by the water, but a few people had to be rescued by boat and Pinks’ Bus Service bussed people to the community center,” said Dobbels. “We had about a foot of water in the our trailer, and my sister lost a couch, tables, and the countertop. I lost a mattress and stuff on my lower shelves like athletic certificates. Some clothes got wet, too.”

After he got out of the trailer park, Dobbels headed over to the J. F. Edwards Complex to check on the fields where he met up with Geneseo High?School softball coach Bob Pettit and his wife, Ginny, who offered to let him stay at their house.

“Jesse is just 100 percent giving of his time and anytime you need something Jesse comes,” said Pettit, who has been working with Jesse on the high school softball team for about 10 years. “Not a lot of people are like that, and he never gets asked what he will get paid.

“He believes in a very simplistic system where we take care of each other and that is why people are taking care of Jesse, because he takes care of us.”

Dobbels has been without a place to call home for approximately a month, but on June 21 he moved out of the Pettits’ where he had been since the first day of the flood and moved into the Maple City Apartments.

Dobbels said when he returned to the trailer for the first time, the place was covered in mud and everything was soaked.

“It was pretty messy and it is something I don’t want to deal with ever again,” said Dobbels. “I am so sorry about the loaner van I had that night because my car was getting fixed. The water was to the top of the roof of the van.”

Dobbels said it took a lot of work to get into Maple City Apartments.

“Abilities Plus told me about available housing, filled out the papers to prove who I was and what my income is because it is a low-income housing place,” said Dobbels. “So far it has been great over there. I am having a good time and it is a great place to live.”

Dobbels said there are a few people back at the trailer park and his sister, Jaci, will also be returning as soon as her trailer is finished.

“They are going back because it is their home, and they want to live there,” said Dobbels. “It is tough, but they are managing to get their things and getting back to normal.”

Despite changes in his life, Dobbels continues to help others, whether during the school year with the high school softball, basketball and football teams or in the summer when he takes care of the J. F. Edwards Complex for the summer softball and baseball teams.

“I do it for the kids and coaches,” said Dobbels. “I love what I am doing.

“Someone asked Bob Pettit once how they get all the work on the fields done and his response was ‘We have Jesse Dobbels. He knows what to do and he loves it.’”

“He doesn’t get a salary or a stipend for what he does, he does it because he loves being a service to the kids,” said Pettit. “He gets everything ready and is a true public servant.

“I don’t want to know what I would do without Jesse Dobbels.?It is just like a relationship with a child or sibling.?He is a big part of my life. We do the best we can to take care of each other.”

Dobbels said that donations for his family are being handled by the Pettits and the donations are for him right now, but he also is helping my sister out a little bit with the trailer.

The school district faculty has also donated money to help out and the Geneseo Middle School students raised $800 for flood victims, he said.

“The school district has been really nice, and I am very grateful,” said Dobbels. “This a  great community to live in because we have people to back you up and the community comes together. When you give something, they give back.

“I hope if this ever happens again that we work together as a community to help people out.”

“It is just the way the community is with Jesse,” said Pettit. “The community won’t let Jesse be down and out because he does so much for us.”

To help those in need following the May 13 flood, contact Rebuilding Together at 944-6442.

A work in progress as the trailer is cleaned up and redone for Jaci Dobbels to return home.