Local Brothers Highlight Disaster Relief Efforts
Aaron and Nate Davis, from the Plant City area, have gained national attention for their work helping charities in the aftermath of natural disasters.
Aaron and Nate Davis grew up on a 10-acre farm in Antioch, just outside Plant City, used to hard work.
Eventually, the brothers would run their own businesses, with Aaron taking over a family business now known as the Florida Agency Network, a network of independent real estate titles and development agencies across the state of Florida, and Nate currently holding the position. President and CEO of Florida Mortgage Firm here in Plant City. But despite transitioning from farm life to offices, the two were never afraid to get their hands dirty when others needed help.
“We were both born in Antioch and went from guys who were used to working outdoors to the way we grew up, we both worked outdoors, I was on a stucco team , I was in the marines, so hard work is nothing foreign to us, but our jobs and our professions took us out of that and put us more in an office environment,” Nate Davis said. , strange as it may seem, sometimes we enjoy this work, we don’t want to every day anymore, but coming back to it is rewarding.
In the aftermath of Hurricane Irma, Nate posted a message on Facebook looking for other volunteers as he grabbed a chainsaw and set out to help TECO employees and other first responders clean up their own properties. as they helped others in the area in the same way. .
“I kind of knew what it would be like to have your own house in a bit of a mess – your yard and your limbs and everything are still down – but you’re working double and triple shifts for the next few weeks,” said Nate Davis. . “So every time you come home, your house is always ransacked while other people’s houses start to fall back into place, but you can’t always fix it because you’re trying to restore power and do all the things. than the rest we enjoy.
Nate and the group that had been brought together to volunteer took the following days to help the elderly, police officers, TECO employees and other community members in need as they continued to recover from storm. He also took the opportunity to involve his family and teach his children the value of hard work that he and his brother learned throughout their upbringing.
In 2021, Aaron flew to Austin, Texas, where his girlfriend was living at the time, seeking to help as her home had been flooded following massive snowstorms that wreaked havoc across much of it. of State. He sought out volunteer opportunities while there and eventually found himself helping a church in the town of Harper, which has a population of 1,200, a two-hour drive west of Austin. After donating 30 chainsaws and getting to work, a photo of Aaron with a chainsaw in his hands and a Tampa Bay Buccaneers cap on his head made its way onto social media and he was dubbed the “Tampa Chainsaw Man”. As the photo made the rounds, Aaron was contacted by People Magazine seeking an interview. He agreed and once the story broke, it quickly gathered enough momentum to raise nearly $100,000 for Harper’s nonprofit Volunteer Fire Department efforts over the next week.
More than a year later, Aaron was now in Texas when he was contacted by People Magazine again, this time following the devastation of Hurricane Ian across the state of Florida in late September. They asked if he was going to get the chainsaws out to help again and, coincidentally, he was actively planning his trip home to help, as Nate was already jumping from one building site to another, not wasting no time in taking action.
“When I was in Texas, I ended up buying 30 chainsaws and giving them to the fire department to give out to their volunteers and I said to Nate, let’s do the same thing,” Aaron Davis said. “Everyone is focused on food and water and some of the necessities, but often volunteers use their own chainsaws and professional organizations use their assigned chainsaws and there are so many people where, if you give them the tools, they will help you so we kind of adopted that “helping the caregivers” mentality.
While devising a plan on how to help Southwest Florida, Aaron came across a website for the Southern Baptist Convention Disaster Relief that was looking for “food, resources and volunteers to run chainsaws ‘, and that was his sign. As fate would have it, while making calls to find where he could help, Aaron found himself on the phone with a former Plant City High School classmate, Richard Rigdon, who had recently left Hillsborough County Fire Rescue for take over as Director of Operations for Florida Disaster. Relief with the Florida Baptist Convention, actively working in Port Charlotte when they spoke.
“I look on Facebook and saw he was down at Murdoch Baptist Church in Port Charlotte and they had a whole rescue operation in place with volunteers,” Aaron Davis said. “They cooked 100,000 meals in the first week after the storm, they coordinated all these volunteers from across the state to help and they just put together this massive operation, but he said the only thing that they lacked chainsaws. The guys brought their own saws, they broke them left and right, they’re worn out, they’re 15 years old and he said that was the biggest blessing. If we could put chainsaws in the hands of these guys, it would help them keep working and working for weeks and months to come.
Aaron and Nate stopped at I-4 Power Equipment in Plant City, headed south, delivered the chainsaws, and joined a crew to help out.
Two or three days later, they were notified by People Magazine that their story had been compiled, presented to editors, and would be listed in their annual Kindness issue, an issue that highlights five different cases of Good Samaritans making their communities a better place. . And shortly after, after People Magazine pre-published the story to some of their affiliates and sponsors, People made another call to alert the brothers that not only People and GoFundMe would donate to the charity of their choice, but The Kelly Clarkson Show invited them to appear in an episode that aired last week.
One thing both Nate and Aaron emphasized strongly is that they believe in doing good deeds to help others, not to tell everyone about the good deeds they have done, so that their efforts to be broadcast to the world was something that surprised them a bit.
“What we look at all the time is that it’s not really about us, it’s about why we do it, it’s about the disaster relief effort of the Florida Baptist Convention,” said Aaron Davis. “Because they do no advertising or marketing, they form a backstage group at thousands of Baptist churches across the country, or in our case in Florida, so that when disaster strikes, the organization takes additional tithes and donations to fund relief efforts. But besides that they are not exposed, that is not why they are in business. They are there to help. So we saw this as an opportunity to raise awareness and fundraise and help direct resources and tools into the hands of those who help.
Nate went on to say that not only is it a win when you can publicize organizations that are making efforts to help in the aftermath of natural disasters, but it’s also a ripple effect where some people don’t have maybe never knew how to get involved or even really thought about volunteering their time to help until they had a moment when they saw other people helping out.
“To me, it’s not about us and I don’t think our acts really deserve the level of attention they’ve gotten, but I also think that any time you get that attention, you can make a difference. one of two things,” Nate Davis said. . “You can just shut up and say I’m not coming on your show and I’m not doing an interview with People Magazine, or you say you know what, this is an opportunity to take that light and shine it. about the organization and the people behind it and in our opinion it is the Florida Baptist Convention Disaster Relief Team Group These people are the real deal, really helping, selflessly giving, doing all the real work in the field day in and day out, so at the end of the day, if it gives exposure to a big organization, I think that’s a win.