Life does not always turn out the way we plan it. Retired and Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) member Jim Kurley found that out in the 1990’s. He had spent a lifetime as a printer in a Polish section of Chicago. In retirement, Mr. Kurley had other plans. Sitting in the New Mexico sunshine was not what he and his wife had expected it to be. They sold their home and chose to move to Champaign, Illinois. After moving, Mrs. Kurley became ill and passed away three months later. Mr. Kurley had been visiting at the hospital and soon after became a full-fledge volunteer.
Mr. Kurley was introduced to RSVP in Champaign, which opened up hundreds of potential opportunities for him. At this point, he was having a difficult time. He had long felt a kinship with those who fought the daily battles of survival in shelters and soup kitchens and began to volunteer to serve them. He was also a dedicated member of his Catholic Church.
Mr. Kurley has been dedicated to the Catholic Worker House, a daily soup kitchen in downtown Champaign. When it closed for the summer a couple of years ago to be remodeled and updated, he was concerned. He continued to pick up contributions of groceries, cooked meals and pastries and took these donations to local shelters. Mr. Kurley spent this time serving the shelter for Women In Transition, the TIMES Center – a men’s homeless shelter, the Crisis Nursery and A Woman’s Place – a domestic violence shelter.
In addition to serving these organizations, Mr. Kurley also continued to work weekly at Provena Covenant. He also contacted his grandson’s elementary school and began to volunteer there in the cafeteria. Though his grandson has been promoted, Mr. Kurley is still volunteering there.
Mr. Kurley uses service as a way to keep himself mentally and physically in shape. This past year, he was honored for contributing more than 13,000 hours of service in just six years. Though he is not a native of Champaign, few will ever demonstrate a greater impact in the area.