Jim Fleming is a “get it done” kind of guy. After a career in the finance industry, this ex-Marine was eager to make a difference as a new member of the IVC Northeastern PA region. The “let me do it” job at St. Francis of Assisi Client Choice Food Pantry he took on in January 2020 quickly evolved into “let me listen” assignment, one that has grown in ways he never anticipated.
When COVID closed daily operations at the food pantry, Jim accepted a new service opportunity making telephone calls to isolated older adults in the community. He was listening a whole lot more than doing. Then May came around, George Floyd was murdered, and communities all over the country were mobilizing. The IVC region’s director in Scranton, Teddy Michel, identified an opportunity for Jim to be involved in a grassroots effort to form a local chapter of the NAACP, so Jim ventured forth into the community of color to listen—just listen. He admits, “By nature, I am not a listener and not always the most patient person. So far, I’ve participated in over 30 hours of listening. Learning to stay in the background with open ears has helped me to grow in ways I did not expect, and to trust the Spirit will lead the way.”
Jim’s group was happy to connect with IVC’s San Diego region and an effort of the Jesuit West Province called CORE: Collaborative Organizing for Racial Equity. The practices and guidelines Jim’s group learned from CORE helped the local chapter recruit 100 paid members in just six weeks; they now await approval from NAACP National.
Jim offers these final thoughts: “I joined IVC expecting to do mostly physical work at my placement: mopping floors, packing bags and boxes. Instead, my faith walk has led me to stretch my heart and soul and imagination. The participants of the listening sessions and my support from IVC has given me the energy and confidence to show up in a place where I was vulnerable and out of my comfort zone. I encourage others to be open to the Spirit’s leadings as we set out to build the Kingdom.”