A servant’s heart 


Retiree teaches new skills, gives back to community

By Nancy Edwards

Those who know Fishers resident, Jim Walters, said that he lives the Golden Rule: Do unto others as you would have them do to you. They also said that he fits the definition of integrity: Doing the right thing at all times and in all circumstances, whether or not anyone is watching.

Walters will tell you that he simply acts out of obedience to God.

A teaching heart

Walters, 75, spent most of his career working with AT&T. After retiring from the phone company, Walters was not content to spend his days watching TV or playing golf. He felt that he had another purpose to fulfill.

The gift of teaching others based on his knowledge and experience had begun to call him.

David Crafton, a Westfield resident and attendee of Grace Church in Noblesville, was volunteering with the church’s ministry program. Frontline Ministries had recently paired up with a nonprofit center in the inner city of Indianapolis, Save the Youth. The center was designed as a safe place for youth to hang out, play sports in the gym or receive some positive affirmations from Founder and Executive Director Byron Alston.

Alston wanted to show young men an alternate life to committing crimes and doing drugs.

“I’m not a goody two-shoes,” Alston said. “I used to be one of those troubled youth.”

Walters, who also attends Grace Church, expressed an interest in serving with the center. Alston needed assistance with setting up a phone system in the building. When the men met, Alston also had a desire to help felons from a work release program learn new skills and gain employment.

Mr. Telephone Man

For two hours a week, Walters served at the Youth Center as a teacher. The first hour for the 10-12 week course was devoted to studying the Bible. He spent the second hour teaching men how to install phones, with hands-on experience at the center.

Recruiting students initially wasn’t particularly difficult, according to Alston.

“First (the students) just wanted to come and eat. The Bible study had food,” Alston said. “Then they would find out they were learning something. They were excited about it.”

The Bible study teaching was crucial for inspiring the men to want to turn their lives around, according to Alston, because many of the men had stopped believing in themselves.

“So many of us turn our backs on people who are not like us,” he said. “Something happens in life that takes (the young men) in different directions. People treat them different and they get a complex about it. When people are living in poverty, they don’t think about what the Bible says.”

“What Jim did, he quoted from the Bible about treating your neighbor like yourself. Jim was teaching them that, about loving your neighbor regardless and forgiving yourself.

Walters became so well-known at the center, according to Alston, even among those who didn’t take the class that he earned the nick-name “Mr. Telephone Man,” the title of a song from the 1980s by New Edition.

“Jim made a difference in those young men’s lives, they loved Jim,” Alston said. “He understood what they were going through.” Although the students may have felt discouraged at the beginning of the class, according to Alston, “they said they weren’t going to learn, then all of a sudden you get it. The light came on. Jim was that light. “

Walters said he was called to help out of “obedience to God.”

“He knew the needs of their hearts, and He wanted me to be there to address the issues of their hearts,” he said.

A new beginning

A graduation party was held after the students’ completion of their new skill set.

“They received diplomas and tool kits and thought that was cool,” Walters said. “The mayor’s office was there, supporters of the community were there. The students felt honored that they got so much attention; it meant something to them. I think they had a sense of meaningfulness, being able to work in a field other than fast food.”

During the graduation ceremony, Alston said he witnessed an emotion that he had never seen the students display before: pride.

“The students were proud of themselves, their families were proud of them,” he said.

Walters helped the graduates obtain employment. A few of them went to work at AT&T, and a few others helped him at the security and surveillance business he now owns and operates, along with his wife, Nancy: Perfect Image.

Alston said he still occasionally sees one of the men who went to work for AT&T.

“Jim changed (the students’) lives and gave them all hopes and dreams,” he said. “God sent us an angel in Jim He was a blessing to the Inner city.”

About Jim Walters

Age: 75

Resides: Fishers
Family: Wife, Nancy; three children, Carolyn, Bryan and Diane; 11 grandchildren; one great-granddaughter.

Education: Served in the United States Marine Corp, while attending a year of electronics; attended the University of Houston

Hobbies/Interests: I am a second amendment person. I took NRA training and enjoy pistol ranges and shooting.

Life philosophies or quotes: “For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain”—Philippians 1:21

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