McGee's Mission: Firefighter gives back to Yazoo

By CATHRYN CARTWRIGHT,

A simple act of loving kindness is often all someone needs to do to make another person's day better. One Yazoo City Firefighter is known for his generous spirit and for making a positive impact in the lives of local children.

Captain Clarence McGee, a native of Holly Bluff, has been a member of the Yazoo City Fire Department for over six years. He is the son of Eddie Ma McGee of Holly Bluff, and is the loving husband of Cheris McGee.

McGee is the father of six children, Cordarrius, Terriyanna, Demarrius, Dontarrius, D'Rihya, and Cla'Zarria, and is actively involved with them as they grow up.

Aside from his work as a fireman, McGee also operates a side business renting outdoor recreation equipment, and is known throughout the community as the "Space Jump Man." In the past he has been known to rent out his space jumps to local community events or fundraisers free of charge so that local children can have a place to play and enjoy themselves.

McGee's story began after graduating from Yazoo County High School in 2001.  He attended Holmes Junior College for almost two years before accepting a job at the Nissan Plant, where he worked in stamping as a dye setter.

After McGee became a father, he was inspired to become the best he could possibly be in order to provide his young children with a promising future.

McGee dreamed of a career working as a fireman, and soon set out to begin with the Fire Academy in 2011.

Fate was against him however, as MgGee failed in his attempt to become a fireman, not once, but twice.  Still McGee refused to give up, and knowing that his children were watching his struggle, he went back once again, and passed the Fire Academy on the third try.

"I thank God everyday that the Yazoo City Department and the Fire Academy didn't give up on me," he said. "When i did finally pass, it was amazing.  My kids were looking up to me and I wanted to do it for them."

McGee started working full time for the Yazoo City Fire Department in 2013, and soon fell in love with interacting with the various children attending local schools in the community. 

"Part of working here is that we go into the schools and teach the kids about what to do when there is a fire in their home," he said. "I even dressed  up as Sparky the Fire Dog for a while and I loved when the kids would come running to me for a hug."

McGee said that over the years his job duties have grown and now he is often the man in the suit, entering dangerous house fires that sometimes occur within the city.

"My first thought when you pull up on the scene is that this could be somebody's family member or close friend on the inside that we have to find," he said.

McGee added that the most challenging thing about firefighting is staying focused and not thinking about what could happen, or if he will go home and see his family again.

"Everyday when you come to work you have that mindset," he said. "But it's very exciting to do this kind of work and I have a good group of people that I work with who are like a family to me."

Because of the manner of his work, McGee made a decision to live life to the fullest, and part of that is giving back to his community when he can.

"When it comes to the community or helping kids, I don't mind it, whatever the reason," he said.

McGee is actively involved in his church, New Foundation M.B. Church in Holly Bluff, where he was raised, and always looks for reasons to help where he can.

One of his most recent acts of kindness was donating his truck and trailer to a local elementary school to be used in a parade.  He was also recently named Parent of the Month at Webster Elementary School for his active involvement with children there.

"My mother taught me never to be greedy," he said. "If somebody needs something, just help them however you can and the blessings will come later."

McGee said that over the years he has adopted the nickname "Major Payne" because of his resemblance to the movie character.  People have often found him interacting with local children acting out the role, showing off his gold tooth, and even reciting some of his favorite lines from the movie.

"They all get so excited to see me and it makes my day," he said. "I talk to them and ask them if they are being good at school, so a lot of them have come to know me.  I love to inspire them just by coming around."

McGee said that he is forever grateful to his wife Cheris for supporting him and pushing him to be the best man he can be.

"She really does help me and she keeps me going every day," he said. "I just thank God for her."

Always looking toward the future, McGee has goals to enlarge his space jump business, and plans to continue helping in other community events where he can.   

"There's a lot of stuff out there that I still would like to do," he said. "But right now my place is here and this is where I need to be."