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The Ripple Effect

Like a pebble that gets thrown in the water, a volunteer’s gift of time and caring releases a ripple effect. These ripples are created and touch lives in many different ways. Some are more unexpected than others.
Jim Shackleford recently celebrated his one year anniversary as a volunteer in the education department at the Mission. “I’ve been donating to the Mission for over 30 years,” shares Jim. “But I never stopped to consider how I might be able to help as a volunteer until I read a volunteer story in a Mission newsletter about Jim Coonce.”
Having worked for IBM for 27 years, Jim S. had a lot in common with Jim C. Both men were retired. Both were engineers. Both had donated to Nashville Rescue Mission. It’s surprising they didn’t know each other. And today, they share one more thing in common–a passion for volunteering at the Mission.
“As a donor, I fully support and believe in the ministry of the Mission,” says Jim. “My wife Peggy and I love that it is faith-based and that they do not accept any government money so they can share the message of hope with those in need.”
Jim grew up in the area. He attended Hillsboro High School and graduated from Vanderbilt University. “I was familiar with the Mission, but other than financially supporting the ministry, I was not involved.” Jim had no idea his passion for math and teaching would intersect at a place he faithfully supports.
“After I retired from IBM, I took a job at Montgomery Bell Academy teaching math and became head of the entire math department where I worked for 16 years. When I was in college, I thought about becoming a teacher, but didn’t think it would support myself and family. I never imagined later in life I could find a way to blend my knowledge and experience with my passions and help the men in the Mission’s Life Recovery Program.”
Jim says teaching adults is different from teaching teenagers. “The men I’ve met at the Mission come from all walks of life. Most of them are struggling with addiction. They’ve faced greater tragedies than dropping out of school. I admire their efforts and determination in seeking to further their education, regardless of their age or situation.”
“Volunteering in the education department at the Mission is different than anything else I’ve ever experienced,” says Jim. “After working with the men, seeing their faces when they succeed, how proud they are when they receive the news of passing their HiSET (High School Equivalency Test) exam … I’m even more enthusiastic about giving today than I was before.”
One of the highlights of Jim’s time volunteering has been working with a 19-year-old man who dropped out of school in ninth grade. “Dalton was the first person I worked with who passed the HiSET exam and received his diploma. It was exhilarating to see his face when he learned he’d passed. Seeing his photograph on the wall brought joy to his face, as well as mine.”
Jim loves that the Mission displays photos of students who pass the HiSET exam. “It’s a reminder there is hope. And that you’re never too old or too young to try. Having your high school diploma opens doors and for those struggling, this is a small thing that can make a big difference.”
Recently, Jim worked with William (cover story). After trying to pass the test seven times over the years, William was ready to give up. But Jim didn’t give up on him. “I knew William could do it. He just needed a little help, some encouragement, and dedication.”
“I couldn’t have passed the test with out Mr. Jim’s help,” says William. “He is more than just a teacher—-he is a friend, and mentor to me.”
“One of the biggest blessings of volunteering at the Mission is that I can teach math, but I can also talk about Jesus,” says Jim. “I couldn’t do that in my other jobs. It’s so great to be in this environment.”
Perhaps you’re like Jim, reading this right now and wondering how you might be able to help. Let the ripple effect touch you.
“The Mission can benefit from more good teachers volunteering their time to help those in need prepare for and take the HiSET exam,” says Jim. “And we need help in more areas than just math. There’s also science, social studies, reading, writing, and English. Consider donating your time and talents to the Mission. There are people who need you. I hope my story will inspire someone to volunteer the way Jim C.’s story did for me.”

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