“It’s the most rewarding thing I do all week, by far,” says Jim (pictured R). “God’s put me in this place, at this time, to do this,” explains Gary (L).
The priceless gift these 2 FLS superheroes give is currency too great to measure. Jim & Gary aren’t spending their retirement—they’re investing it, cheerfully solving all manner of maintenance issues on our 2-acre campus, from the mundane (wind-blown fences, leaking appliances, clogged drains) to the surprises that often arise amid families raising small children in old buildings (steadying a ceiling fan hit by too many balls). Most importantly, they represent to moms what a godly, kind, helpful man—a gentleman—looks like. Ours is a ‘No Man On Campus’ property, creating a safe refuge for many escaping domestic violence. Gary & Jim are an endearing exception, on
ly entering moms’ apartments together or if the home is empty, and always displaying strength, compassion, & the love of Christ Himself. “I was raised by a single mom and had a pretty bad upbringing where I took care of myself,” explains Jim. “I enjoy, by the grace of God, being a man who can represent the ‘other side,’ a man of integrity the women feel safe around, who they can trust.”
Both Gary & Jim began volunteering after full careers, deploying a lifetime of problem-solving skills to keep our old buildings hospitable, safe places for families to call home. They serve tirelessly Mon/Wed, and—lucky us—Jim’s now a part-time employee. “As we get older and are retired, this is an opportunity to give back to our community,” Gary notes. “FLS is certainly a worthy place to donate your time. Part of what I enjoy is the chance to teach single moms, who in their childhoods never learned how to do certain things, what to do for basic fixes—empowering them with basic maintenance ‘life skills.’ You sense that you’re making a difference.”
They sure are. Both point out that the FLS campus is old & vast, requiring tender, loving care to keep things running amid its historic 1880’s house, former 1940’s-era Japanese internment schoolhouse-turned multi-unit dwelling, old boiler systems, & maintenance building that had become a messy haven of obsolete items (now an organizational heaven thanks to these two!). Although staff believe that ‘JARY,’ as the duo is affectionately called, has the Midas touch, Jim & Gary laugh about mishaps while ‘jerry-rigging’ (JARY-rigging?) their way through a challenge.
Of this Dream Team, Tonya Lark, Executive Director, beams, “Words can’t capture the difference these men are making. Our campus is beautiful but needy, so repairs come up all the time. These two just dive in and take care of it. Most importantly, moms feel seen and respected when their home repair issues are addressed quickly, by gentlemen. I’m beyond grateful for their investment here.” With deep gratitude, the FLS Team gives a hearty SHOUT OUT to ‘JARY,’ our Dynamic Duo!