I Knew Him & I Loved Him: Jimmiee Gaulden (and his “30 Things for Others” Story)

Are you doing what I’m doing right now? I’m getting ready to give & receive some fabulous physical gifts with those I love. Or maybe you’re all prepped and ready! So you’re on to the next big holiday writing a list a mile long of all the ways you want to improve upon your life in the New Year!

Can I give you another kind of giving & resolutions challenge? Yeah? I love how y’all are always up for new challenges! You’re gonna change the world with this one. Believe me.

I want to encourage you to pause. Take 20 minutes & make a list of ways you want to give to & enhance other lives in the new year.

Hey now. No judgment. I’m still pumped for material gifts (fingers crossed for that backseat doggy hammock I asked for) and setting some goals for myself in the new year (like building enough income from my coaching business to save $12,000 for a coaching certification). But as you know, I believe in the power of AND! So I think we can do those things AND spend some time coming up with a list on how we want to give & serve others in 2017.

Can I share a little story with you on why this is so damned important to me? Thank you! It’s a goodie about a man named Jimmiee Gaulden. I knew him & I loved him. Considering he’s 3rd only to my mom and my dad in the people I know and love…well, that’s saying something.

The Story. The Man. Jimmiee Gaulden.

Jimmiee. Wow. How do I sum up this man? At the risk of being called blasphemous, he is straight up the closest thing I have ever witnessed to the human embodiment of Jesus Christ on earth. He had more humility, love & compassion than any other soul I’ve seen.

Jimmiee suffered from many physical disabilities. So much so that my professor felt the need to prepare me in advance before my first meeting with him at 3M where he worked. She encouraged me to ignore them and not treat him differently. If he wanted to walk me to & from the lobby even with his crippling limp and immobile arm, let him!

This man was a leader & mentor that I’ve only been able to match one time since. He was willing to go there with you (check out this e-mail below that I saved & treasure to this day)–He wasn’t afraid to get personal at work sharing about his faith, his joy & focus on service, his experiences as a black man living in the South or getting picked on & teased for his physical disabilities. Not once did he ever get up on a soap box and preach though. He was one of the most humble, shy & quiet people I knew. Rather, he was extremely observant. He’d quietly observe and, if the moment felt appropriate, share something from his past to illuminate a lesson you were likely in the process of learning.

On one wintry day at 3M, I sat in his office hemming & hawing about a job decision. I had the blessing (that felt like a curse in the moment) of two huge internship offers. I was near tears feeling the pressure of taking the 3M internship to maintain good relationships between my University and 3M—I was 1 of just 25 selected from across the country for a highly coveted spot. But I was 1 of 1 students that had struck out and taken initiative of my own to secure a first time internship with General Mills—a company my University had no affiliations with but that I might be able to help the secure if I gave a stellar internship performance. I didn’t know which one to choose! Jimmiee always had a way of lightening tense moods in the year that I knew him leading up to this point. He responded to my watery eyes with a laugh saying—

 Shannon, you worry too much! No matter what you choose, you’ll wake up the next morning able to help others. Every day I wake up and say THANK GOD! Another day on this earth that I’m able to serve others!

I then asked “Jimmiee, what causes do you support? I’ve actually been looking for some new organizations to volunteer with.” He got quiet and I could see the hesitation in his eyes…not sure if he should continue on sharing something more personal. I stayed silent encouraging him forward. He slowly opened his desk drawer humbly revealing a well worn & torn list he made each year. This list was titled “30 Things for Others.” He didn’t publicize it. He just intentionally & privately focused on serving.

I chose the 3M internship. Pictured (L – R): Lynn Schleeter–St. Kate’s Professor, Norb Biderman–my boss for the internship, Me, and Jimmiee.

On December 20, 2009 Jimmiee passed away at the age of 57. For the past 7 years I’ve quietly carried the torch forward building a list of 30 ways I’m going to help others in his memory. And today felt like as good a day as any to take it public. I’m doing this in the hopes that it inspires you to follow in Jimmiee’s footsteps! Maybe his simple list of 30 things can turn into a list of 3,000 things with more people inspired.

Back to YOU: What are 30 ways you want to serve others in 2017? 

30 is clearly an arbitrary number. Maybe it’s just 1 thing. Or 100 things! My only ask is that you ACT. Sit down with your partner, your children, with a dear friend or just yourself. Jot down a couple ways you and/or your family want to serve others in 2017. Post it on your fridge or keep it private in your desk drawer at work (what Jimmiee did). If you’re at work, I dare you to “go there” with your team. I dare you to bring this concept up suggesting that your team takes even 10 minutes to make a list as a group or as individuals!

Big or small—we take them all! Kind words, kind thoughts, kind deeds—they all count. Donating money or donating your time. To dear friends & family or total strangers. Doesn’t matter. Just serve.

I’ve shared my list below if it helps get your own ideas flowing. I’d love it if you commented with ideas to help all of us get creative on ways to help others!

PS: Can you tell my love language is Acts of Service? It’s how I most like to give & receive love.

My 30 Things List (WIP for 2017)

  1. Overall, donate 10% of our net income to charity. Some specific goals within this bucket…
  2. Donate $2,500+ to St. Catherine University. Long story short—I have a life goal of donating as much money back to St. Kate’s as I was given in scholarships. That’s $79,000!!! Ooftah. We bite a little off each year. $11,650 donated to date; $67,350 to go.
  3. Donate $1,000+ to Jeremiah Program – an organization focused on helping single mothers break the cycle of poverty two generations at a time. I freaking love their work and believe in it deeply. 10+ years and counting volunteering my time with them.
  4. Donate 10% of my time in my “40 hours work week” to causes I care about. Considering I signed up for 15 – 20 hours a week to Jeremiah I’d say this should be NO PROBLEM! J
  5. Write a real deal EPIC thank you note that is long overdue.
  6. Say I’m sorry to a former person in my life I have done wrong to.
  7. Put cash in every salvation army bucket I see (this means I need to take out more cash).
  8. Give $500 to strangers just because. We did this to the serving staff of a small, low price restaurant when they first opened. They were slammed and none of the servers were making much in tips because food wait times were an hour plus. My husband & I talked, went to the ATM and gave the manager $500 to handout to the staff. We quickly went to our car and watched from the window as he handed out the cash. 🙂
  9. Have friends over for a home-cooked meal.
  10. Coach 8 people for free. Soft spots for women suffering with impostor syndrome, families trying to work their way out of debt, or individuals reeling after a recent job loss or layoff. Let me know if you’re interested and fall in this category! 
  11. Donate 120 hours to CLUES YA! Through my mentorship of Alejandra. Specifically try to take her to at least 1 college for a visit and 1 college football game for fun. 🙂
  12. Have 2 “Billy days!” – a day where I take my 7th grade godson out for adventures & something that he would enjoy doing.
  13. Have 2 “Bryce days!” – a day where I babysit my 4-month-old godson & bond with him.
  14. Pursue becoming a foster parent. Application went in a few weeks ago. Now we go through the 4 – 6 month process of interviews, 25 hours of training, psychological examinations, home studies, etc.
  15. Organize a shift for Feed My Starving Children with my huge Schottler family.
  16. Volunteer for a battered women’s shelter.
  17. Make freezer meals for a friend who could use a break or the time back.
  18. Shovel a neighbor’s sidewalk 5x.
  19. Take my parents on a “date” once a month.
  20. Become a homework tutor through Hennepin County Library.
  21. Find a classroom to volunteer in helping children learn to read and/or improve their reading skills.
  22. Start a book club regarding A Good Time for the Truth: Race In Minnesota to engage my community in healthy conversation about race issues in Minnesota. Cap it off by attending the author panel event at St. Kate’s (open to the public!) on 2/23 at 7pm in the Recital Hall.
  23. Lead a Financial Peace University class at St. Joan of Arc Church.
  24. Volunteer at Joan of Arc’s Mobile Loaves & Fishes feeding & clothing the homeless and working poor.
  25. Donate to the food shelf bank at Bergan’s Super Valu.
  26. Volunteer at Joan of Arc’s BeFriender ministry offering confidential listening and support to individuals in times of life challenges and transitions.
  27. Volunteer for Meals on Wheels via St. Joan of Arc Church.
  28. Take Ale to volunteer somewhere with little babies (maybe Jeremiah nursery).
  29. Volunteer as a Mock Interview Facilitator for HIRED.
  30. Volunteer to chaperone on a Social Justice Outreach trip with St. Kate’s students.
  31. Take someone I know dealing with a mental illness out to lunch.
  32. Participate on Jeremiah Program’s Innovation Committee to help create a 2nd programming model to reach more single mothers.
  33. Write a letter to my congressman on an issue that is important to me.
  34. Speak in a St. Kate’s business class.
  35. Babysit for a friend or family member who needs it!
  36. Help one of my sisters organize or deep clean something fierce around their house.
  37. Continue to be available any time in any way a former DR/mentee of mine needs help, advice, etc.
  38. Patronize my friend’s start up business by buying goods/services from them!
  39. Help someone get across the finish line for their first running race or triathlon (ie—train with them, help keep them motivated/on track, race it with them, etc.). You interested? Let me know!
  40. Organize a family roadside clean-up day for our adopt-a-highway.
  41. Build a coaching framework specific to women working to overcome impostor syndrome and leverage it to help at least 3 women for FREE. Help them begin to own their awesomeness and stop feeling like a phony.
  42. Send one of my girlfriends a beautiful bouquet of flowers celebrating an accomplishment in their life! My girlfriend Emma gave me this idea after she sent me a beautiful bouquet of daisies congratulating me on a major promotion a few years back.