Volunteer Spotlight: Meet Jim

Volunteer Spotlight: Meet Jim

This month’s Volunteer Spotlight recognizes Dr. James Grissom, “Jim”, who has volunteered with the Literacy Council since 2016. Jim has dedicated his life to serving the community as a medical doctor.  After retiring he chose the Literacy Council as the place to continue making an impact. Jim became a tutor in 2016, his first involvement in the organization.

Jim served on the Literacy Council’s Board of Directors for over six years, including as Vice President, President, and Committee Chairman, and whose second board term ended in June.  Throughout his tenure, he participated on the Executive, Finance, and Development Committees, meeting monthly with other volunteers to support the Literacy Council’s work and fundraising.  As a result of Jim’s steady work often behind the scenes, the Literacy Council has experienced steady program growth from increased financial support and sponsorships from businesses and community members. “Jim has taken a leading voice in directing and motivating the Board.  He is a cheerleader, forward thinker, motivator, generous contributor, and hard worker.  Jim is ‘all-in’ when he volunteers, and his dependability is legendary.  Jim does not seek for recognition or acknowledgement. He serves out of a sense of duty and responsibility to his community.” Darrell Batson, Past President

While Board President, Jim helped to guide the Literacy Council and staff through the challenges of COVID, drawing on his medical background to guide decisions about how to balance providing services and safeguarding students, staff and volunteers. Throughout this stressful period, the Literacy Council was able to transition teaching and learning to remote platforms, and continue to provide services. Board and committee meetings quickly moved to Zoom, and kept the organization moving forward.  In 2022, he was an integral part of a strategic planning process to set the direction for the next three years.

When it was apparent that the Literacy Council would be unable to hold its annual Celebration of Achievements event in June 2020, due to COVID lockdowns, a heartfelt virtual Celebration of Achievements event was organized and performed as a Facebook live event to recognize achievements of students over the past year.  Jim kicked it off with a warm welcome.

One of Jim’s priorities throughout his years with the Literacy Council is to identify ways to recognize and bring together volunteers who are often tutoring around the county, but in relative isolation from each other and the Council itself.  This continues to be an important goal for the Literacy Council to address.  In November 2021, the Literacy Council organized a creative drive-by Volunteer Appreciation Event with a funnel cake truck parked at the office, with members of the Board helping to recognize volunteers with certificates of appreciation.

Jim’s contributions were honored this past year as one of the Literacy Council’s National Philanthropy Day Distinguished Volunteers! Dr. Jim Grissom has provided critical fundraising and capacity building support as Board President, Development and Finance Committee member. The Literacy Council has undergone significant program growth and fundraising success, thanks to Jim’s efforts to recruit sponsors and community supporters.  “Jim Grissom is the consummate Board member – an engaged leader who has made significant contributions to our organization.” Richard Haney, Past President

Jim contributed the following message as Board President, in the Third Edition of Reflections – Voices of English Learners  in 2021:

“As we each reflect on the additional stresses we have felt during the past six months, we realize that multiple things have shifted in our own lives. The COVID-19 Crisis has caused us to feel isolation, economic uncertainty, and fear for our own health. Furthermore, social justice issues have led to widespread unrest, felt locally as well as nationally and globally. Imagine how threatening this time of change and uncertainty is to our students as they try to cope and survive. We are all challenged to rethink our perspectives and values through a more inclusive lens. As I read each of these “reflections”, I imagine each writer’s struggle, bravery, and hope for reaching a better tomorrow.”

“Thank you, Jim, for your dedication and love for this community, and for helping the Literacy Council to grow to meet its changing needs.  Your leadership and medical expertise were extremely helpful to me guiding our operations through the pandemic years with a steady and practical hand.  We look forward to your continued volunteer service in a new capacity! We are a stronger organization because of you.  Thank you for believing in the power of literacy and our volunteers!” Laurie Fisher, Executive Director
Last year, more than 175 passionate and dedicated volunteers contributed over 14,300 hours supporting the tutoring, class, parent and workplace literacy programs. The Literacy Council is always seeking volunteers, including class facilitators and instructors! Learn more by registering for a 60-minute Volunteer Information Session offered every month, followed by a Tutor Training Workshop.  All sessions and workshops are currently conducted online.