The Rotary Club has the ability to recognize and honor someone who is deserving of a Paul Harris Fellow. James L “Jim” Johnston is such an individual. “He has always been a person who actually lived his life by our four way test . 1.Is it the TRUTH? 2.Is it FAIR to all concerned? 3.Will it build GOODWILL and BETTER FRIENDSHIPS? 4.Will it be BENEFICIAL to all concerned?” explained Paul Schwartz, who spoke about Jim during the June 24 club meeting. Schwartz went on to describe his relationship with Jim and some of Jim’s unique life story:
“Jim is a person whom his family & friends would describe as compassionate, merciful, and gracious to others and always willing to help others. Jim would not speak of it himself, but he has been a selfless volunteer for others less fortunate than he, helping out in many charitable projects as well as in his Church. A few years ago, he was working to rescue the downtown Habitat For Humanity, when he asked me to assist with some legal matters. It was my honor to do so. There for the next three (3) years or so, I was fortunate enough to work with him and the team he helped assemble that rescued that wonderful downtown charitable organization. It was my honor to be involved with him there then. He lead, he built, and he fostered friendship there. For years he has led and currently leads a men’s religious retreat and also bible study groups, but it was when he was suddenly struck down that he really inspired us, as it was then that Jim’s very life was on the line. Jim fought and won a battle against esophageal cancer for what seemed like years, that his friends and family will never forget. We nearly lost him more than once, but his faith, his attitude, his compassion and his graciousness to others never wavered. His family and friends rallied with him and it was a true marvel to observe. One friend of ours, Greg, said Jim’s battle has changed my life to the good forever, and many of us feel the same way. This award is well deserved and is also our way of saying to Jim, thank you for being you, thank you for continuing to inspire us and thank you for just still being here with us. Jim is married to the former Joanne Villaponteau, and they have two children, Austin and Casey. Austin is married to Joel Freeman and they have a daughter, Ella Ruth, and another baby on the way.”
About Paul Harris and Rotary
Paul Harris was an attorney who in 1905 founded Rotary International in Chicago, Ill. Initially a social club where people in various vocations could socialize for fellowship and friendship and develop business connections, Paul Harris soon realized the club needed a greater purpose. The Club became the world’s very first service club. Today, there are 1.2 million Rotarians in 35,000 clubs doing good all over the world. This network of clubs makes up Rotary International of which this Club of approximately 70 is but one member.
Rotary has taken on projects all over the world and has nearly wiped out Polio in the world, as its global mission . Rotary’s next global mission is to wipe out Alzheimers.
The Charleston Rotary Club – Breakfast participates in many service programs each year:
- An annual fund raiser where money is raised and donated to many charities.
- A club endowment that awards deserving beneficiaries every year based upon need.
- Support for the world need for clean water with Molly Green and Water Missions International which grew right out of this Club.
- Support for school literacy with a Rotary Reader program at elementary schools, and the donation of children’s books & dictionaries to needy elementary schools.
- Address personal elementary student needs with a Happy Feet program where we provide school shoes to elementary children.
- Sponsor of Special Olympics with our annual boat cruise in conjunction with the JI Yacht Club.
With these programs and there are more, the Charleston Rotary Club – Breakfast is full-filing the service-above-self vision of Paul Harris. Nearly every member of this rotary club is a Paul Harris Fellow, and individual Rotary clubs from time to time, also honor individuals as Paul Harris Fellows. These honorees, like Jim Johnston, are individuals who meet high professional and personal standards set forth by Paul Harris.
It has been said that if you see what happens to you as mere chance, your fate will be governed by mere chance. If you simply let things come to pass, you will find yourself exposed to the vagaries of fortune and the whims of others. But if you believe you are here for a purpose, your life will take on the directedness of that purpose. Your energies will be focused. A sense of mission will give you strength. You will do remarkable things. It has been said that the people who change the world are those who believe that life has a purpose, a direction, a destiny. They know where they want to go and what they want to achieve. To achieve this, though, we have to have a sense of collective purpose.