Having Beaten a Serious Illness, Jim Has a New 2018 Goal
Jim had never missed a day of work at a local restaurant. He started as a dish washer, but by the time Jim was 19 years old, he was already promoted to a kitchen manager. Loving the role and the challenging, fast-paced work, he really saw a future in the restaurant business.
But one afternoon, Jim’s boss called him to his office. Seemingly out of nowhere, his boss told Jim to cut off his long hair.
In some Indigenous communities, a man’s long hair is a sacred part of the culture. “It was part of my identity,” Jim said. “They wouldn’t even allow me to tie it back and put it in a hair net.”
His family and their traditions took priority in his life, so Jim refused to sacrifice his identity for a job, even though he loved it. Jim, a hardworking and dedicated manager, was fired for his decision to honor his tradition.
Over the next few years, Jim had worked a few jobs, mostly in landscaping and other manual labor industries. By his late 30s, a serious condition was plaguing him and Jim was struggling to focus on his career.
“People think alcoholics are having a good time,” Jim said. “But they’re not. They’re suffering.”
For years, Jim struggled with alcoholism. He lost everything, including his job and his home. He had a difficult time getting food—he couldn’t afford groceries, and even if he could get food from a food shelf or food pantry, he had nowhere to keep it. Jim was sick, and he knew it, but he was also robbed of hope.
“I had to ask myself—do I really want to die from drinking?” Jim said. “Or do I want to respect my parents’ memory?”
Jim took a deep breath in our interview. “I honestly didn’t think I could quit,” he said. “But I did it! I’m a year sober in December!”
The illness held him back, but the hardworking nature within Jim never left. He’s ready to get fully back on his feet. In the meantime, he’s using a food shelf near his house to maintain his stability. “I’m here because of negative choices I made,” Jim said, “but I’m making positive choices now.”
Now that Jim has hope again, he said his goal for 2018 is to go back into the workforce. “I miss working!” he said. “I want to be self-reliant—it was the way I was raised.”
Jim doesn’t know exactly what field he wants to pursue yet, but he does have one idea. “I want to work at the Humane Society,” Jim said. “But I don’t know if my heart can take it. I’m a bit of a softy!” He couldn’t hold back his grin.
“God gave me a lot of gifts,” Jim concluded. “From now on, I want to help people like they helped me.”
Second Harvest Heartland believes all people deserve to eat, regardless of the choices they’ve made or the hands they were dealt in life. No one can grow or contribute to their community if they are hungry. This is why the hunger relief system—food shelves, food pantries and meal programs—work so hard to make sure families have the food they need.
Many agencies we work in close partnership with see an increased need during the holidays. Now is a great time to get involved. Help change the holidays for our hungry neighbors by making a gift today!