Retired United States Marine pays it forward, aids in The Salvation Army’s hurricane response
By: Philip Burn
Javier Esquivel first encountered The Salvation Army as an active member of the United States Marine Corps while serving in New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Sixteen years later, Esquivel spent two weeks paying it forward while working on a Salvation Army mobile feeding unit, providing hot meals and encouragement to communities in southern Louisiana.
“I was deployed to New Orleans immediately after Hurricane Katrina and we were responsible to patrol the streets. The city was flooded and there had been a bunch of looting,” said Esquivel. “I remember knocking on doors checking that elderly residents were safe. We got a lot of people out of there.”
Esquivel vividly recalls a Salvation Army mobile kitchen roaming the streets of New Orleans, serving meals to the Marines and other first responders.
“There wasn’t much support down there and I’ll never forget seeing this little Salvation Army truck, from Temple, Texas, coming around the corner and feeding me and my guys,” Esquivel said. “An older couple were in there dishing up the food with a smile and a ‘God bless you!’ And here I am, sixteen years later working with The Salvation Army, paying it forward to people in Louisiana. Amazing!”
Now a Salvation Army employee in Houston, working at The Salvation Army Emergency Disaster Services warehouse, Esquivel was quick to volunteer to serve after Hurricane Ida.
“I’m always ready to help in any way I can and was honored to be asked to serve in Louisiana,” said Esquivel. “Me and my mobile feeding unit partner Mr. Lowell fed a lot of people this week.”
Sadly, Esquivel received word that his Aunt passed away earlier this week and had to cut his deployment short in order to attend the funeral in McAllen, Texas. Plans were made for him to leave on Wednesday morning, however, on Tuesday evening he returned from a busy, fulfilling day of service and requested to stay one additional day.
“I really wanted to serve the people just one more day and a Marine never leaves his post,” said Esquivel. “They have lost so much and need the food and help from The Salvation Army. I can travel back to Houston on Thursday and drive to the Valley on Friday.”
The Salvation Army continues to expand service south reaching the hardest hit areas across Louisiana. On Saturday, Sept. 11, mobile units served in the communities of Golden Meadow, Galliano, Shriver, Chauvin, Cut Off, Larose, Monagut, Houma, Bayou Blue, Lockport, Albany, Gray, and LaPlace. Service addresses of continuing service, updated regularly, can be found here. Clean up kits and breakfast boxes were delivered to Grand Isle on Friday, Sept. 10 as residents were allowed to return for the first time and assess damage to their homes.
As of Sept. 12, The Salvation Army has served 321,045 meals, 173,393 drinks, and 81,440 snacks across the state of Louisiana in response to Hurricane Ida, activating 40 mobile feeding units. 233 disaster workers have given 22,877 hours of service, and The Salvation Army has made emotional and spiritual care connections with 16,055 people.
To make a financial donation to support ongoing Hurricane Ida relief efforts, go to helpsalvationarmy.org or call 1-800-SAL-ARMY. For the latest disaster response information, go to disaster.salvationarmyusa.org.