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  • Susan Mader, MSSW, CPS

Volunteer Jim Fager is a super star! Featured in the Green Bay Press-Gazette

This article was submitted by Susan Mader for the 2022 WPS Volunteer Awards

You can see Jim Fager at The Gathering Place almost every day for most of the day. Jim is one of our dedicated volunteers. He does not have set hours or assigned days. Jim is very well liked. Jim has “his chair” and everybody respects that. Jim first came to The Gathering Place in 2009. Soon after, Jim stepped up into a leadership position as the “maintenance man.” If you have a maintenance issue, Jim is the go-to guy.

Jim is a man of many talents. Our house is 130-years old and needs a lot of maintenance. He has assisted in major house improvement projects to include restoring the antique front door, original to the house, and tearing up old carpeting so we could have the original wood floors restored. He recently stained our wheelchair ramp and front porch and steps and installed traction for the Wisconsin winters.

Jim is one of the volunteers who is the “glue” to our organization. Jim is in charge of the tool room and the tools within. If the door handle is loose, Jim will tighten it. If the smoke detector is low on the battery, Jim will replace it. If you need an extension cord, Jim will get it for you. If a picture needs to be hung, Jim will pound the nail in the wall.

Jim Fager is one of our volunteers who is challenged by his mental health condition and its symptoms, but he does not let his mental illness define him. When Jim first came to us, he began to identify his needs, wants, goals and dreams. As his goals were being met, he found his quality of life greatly improved.

Jim has overcome his mental illness and its disabling symptoms. Jim is resilient, meaning he is someone who adapts and bounces back from difficult situations and moves forward.

Jim embraces the concept of recovery. Jim actively engages in small talk with our members. Jim acknowledges socialization as an integral part of his recovery. Jim does not have a lot of social outlets outside of The Gathering Place. So, he recognizes the importance of having a place to gather and be among peers.

Jim gives selflessly of his time and thinks nothing of stopping whatever he is doing to assist in projects, some that take all afternoon, some that take a couple of days to a week. Jim is eager to take on all initiatives and is creative in problem solving. He has the answers for everything.

Jim is passionate about our house, our sanctuary. His passion helps to keep our safe and trauma-free environment. His passion is infectious as others follow his easy going, peaceful demeaner. Jim is highly reliable, showing up every day, especially for special projects. Jim is committed and compassionate of the mission of The Gathering Place, to improve the quality of life for our members.

Jim’s most important characteristic is his humbleness. Jim is so humble; he is “the volunteer who does not want to be called a volunteer.” Jim is hesitant to take on the title, but certainly not the role.

“Jim’s chair” at The Gathering Place was empty for three weeks. In 2020 he came down with COVID 19 and was very sick. He suffered physical ailments such as difficulty breathing which exacerbated his physical health issues. Jim admits that at the age of 69, he is slowing down, not able to do as much maintenance work as before. But he still is a “regular” at The Gathering Place. And a valuable volunteer in many capacities.

Jim’s selflessness, knowledge, compassion, and humbleness are an integral part of our success. We could not do it without him! Congratulations to a hospitality specialist who is deserving of this recognition!

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