Almon Poss doesn't help those victimized by accidents or severe weather incidents because he wants to. He does it because God wants him to.
"We all have to go places where we're led to go," the 67-year-old said. "A lot of people will tell you, 'Oh, I love doing this.' Really and truly, it's tough. It's just that I feel like it's my calling."
The Harlem resident volunteered to serve as a cook as part of a Southern Baptist relief effort in the Gulf Coast after Hurricane Katrina.
Since then, Mr. Poss has worked as a cook, chaplain or some other support role with Southern Baptist Convention Disaster Relief groups or the American Red Cross in Texas, Tennessee, Mississippi, Alabama and Georgia.
He has helped families devastated by hurricanes, tornadoes and fires.
"The worst thing is people being without homes," he said. "People don't realize it until they get out there and get to helping people. These people really need help and counseling."
However, Mr. Poss said he typically refrains from advising the victims he encounters.
He prefers to simply listen.
"People at that point in their lives are questioning God," he said. "Who wouldn't say, 'Why me Lord?' You just kind of tell them that there are some things he doesn't control, but he has a plan."
When he isn't volunteering to help displaced families, Mr. Poss runs his Grovetown business, Red Barn Produce and Grandpa's Garden Center, which sells plants, fruits, vegetables and patio furniture.
"When you get a certain age, you have to find your own work, so I just went into business for myself," he said.
Mr. Poss said he has a loyal customer base that understands his need to close his store on occasion to attend to relief efforts.
"They always wait until we re-open," he said. "They are very supportive of my disaster work."
A longtime Christian and member of Old Union Baptist Church near Harlem, Mr. Poss said he derives the strength he needs from God.
That strength helps him help others.
"They (disaster victims) need someone to be strong for them," he said. "If you go into it and you listen to people, you can't get upset. You've got to stay calm to help people."
Reach Donnie Fetter at (706) 868-1222, ext. 115, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
OCCUPATION: owner of Red Barn Produce and Grandpa's Garden Center in Grovetown
FAMILY: Wife, Esther; son, Michael; grandchildren, Rance, Kate, Kayla and Trent
QUOTE: "God told me to go. That's the only reason I'm out there. Otherwise, I'd be home."