There are so many great stories that it is hard to put it into words and be brief about things….
Let me start by saying I meet Jim in 1984 through Robert Sheehan, Gordy Tooley and Claudette who were employees of Community Action in Genesee County at the Masse Mall in Batavia. Jim was second in command at that time and Mr. Pulley was the Executive Director. I was unemployed doing side jobs and pretty much roaming the streets and looking for trouble. I had gotten my girlfriend pregnant and had to change my ways. I was receiving help from social services in 1986 – 1987 so that my girlfriend to get the pre-natal care she needed. Back then if you were an able bodied male and were receiving help from DSS you had to work off the help that you received. Social Services handed me a list of agencies that I could work my help off. Community Action was one of them. I said I know some peoples there and that may be a good place for me. I showed up the next day and spoke with Bobby and Jim. They were very happy to have my services. Well that turned into my career.
A few days after that Jim approached me and asked if we could have a conversation. Have to admit, it was a little scary walking into his office. He looked like a King sitting there on his throne. He asked me if I would like a job on the Weatherization crew. I accepted and was very grateful. It was only on the job for two weeks and learned that once a month they had a food give away. I was put in charge of getting 5 rental U-hauls as large as we could get and go to the cold storage in Holley and they would fill it up with cheese and butter as well as other canned goods and such. Well, what a journey that was the first time. Jim handed me a list of people that were on social services and said pick 5 off the list and I will call them. No problem right. Nope! What a process of getting these trucks all the same time and for a few days. Getting them loaded and locking them up. At that time I was a green horn and it was not an easy process to say the least. I can remember telling Jim that I need more help that I cannot do all this by myself. I felt over whelmed by it all. He got up and said SOSH, I don’t care what you have to do and I don’t want to know, please get our CHEESE trucks filled and ready for action the next day. Low and behold I was able to get that accomplished.
I made an impression on Jim and he saw something about me that I didn’t even know. We had great times at the NYSCAA & NYSWDA conferences that we went to 4 times a year. His door was always open and always listened to what you had to say. He always had an answer to your questions.
Most of all, as my mentor he had a way with words as well. Some words of wisdom from Jim were words I’ll never forget and I share them to this day.
He once told me in his office at the beginning of my career: Sosh, “Just be you, you will do”. “surround yourself with good people and you will be just fine”
Jim will be missed and he was a legend in the non-profit world. Rest in Peace my friend. You will be truly missed by all.