Larger than life

This is a story about a gentleman who is larger than life. I use that terminology for the simple fact that he is but in two different ways. Jim Batic entered our facility at the weight of 460 pounds. By societies standards he is considered a large man and would be ridiculed by many for his size, but what those people do not know about Jim is I would say of the 460 pounds, 300 pounds of it is his heart. This is a man who goes through each day offering his services in any way he can. Never complaining or feeling self pity about his size Jim simply smiles every minute of every day sitting in his specially built chair and bed asking over and over what he can do to contribute in the assisting of our clients.
His day is one of boredom as he enjoys sitting in the front lobby area reading books and watching the people as they come and go, and when asked by a staff member if there is anything he would like to do, he simply states “thank you but I’m fine, this is all very good for me.” 99% of the time we try to keep the clients out of the lobby as to not interrupt business as it gets pretty hectic at times but with Jim it is a pleasure to have him there. He has a wit and banter that makes him enjoyable to talk to not to mention he can be a pretty intimidating sight to those who come in to cause trouble. We do not ask anything of Jim, no money, no work, nothing; we just want him to be around because of who he is.
He has always had a propensity for helping people. Throughout his life anytime he saw someone in need he would go out of his way to assist them. If they needed food Jim would feed them, if they needed a ride Jim would be their chauffeur, if they needed socks or shoes Jim would forget about what he needed and get them what they needed.
East New Mexico University is where he gained his education and knowledge in computers and put that to good use by becoming a computer programmer for Bartlett Bank. Before joining the work force Jim was with the Air Force and please refrain from all the jokes that may be entering your mind about that. He was an administrator and obviously the recruiters saw enough potential and future in him that he was accepted into arguably the hardest of the armed services to become a member of. Was he in Top Gun school? No., was he Iceman’s wing man?, No., although i do hear he sings a pretty mean version of “you lost that loving feeling.” however his work on his computer in retrospect was just as important since it was his computer skills that allowed planes to get off the ground safely and efficiently.
His story is probably one of the hardest i have ever had to write for the mere fact Jim is a very humble man, a down to earth man, a kind and generous man who prefers to keep his life simple and without accolades. While interviewing him trying to get copy points of exciting things that may have happened in his life there just wasn’t much to be told and if there was Jim certainly wasn’t going to let me in on it. just like Jim this story is the prototypical ‘what you see, is what you get” just as he is. There are no embellishments, no glorifying of his life, just the simple facts about a man who chooses to live his life as a person who only wants to do right by others without having people feel sorry for him.
When asked what his hobbies were or his greatest pleasures two things came to mind. He loves reading and cooking. he did actually brag that he makes the best Macaroni and Cheese and Broccoli and Carrots, a far cry from those of us who brag about our sports careers and cars we drive. I did have to scold Jim a bit though because he wouldn’t give me the recipe for either, how selfish can you be, ha ha. he even joked about having his own product line such as “Newman’s Own”.
Every day the director and CEO of the foundation Sean gets with Jim and does some various aerobics. It is such a joy to watch them both dance in place, swing their hips and arms to the Black Eyed peas song “I’ve Got a Feeling.” Sean had told Jim that, he needed it as much as Jim did trying to get his body back in line after he got hurt in a fire at the shelter. Sean has to also lose about 75 lbs so he can have the well needed surgeries from the fire. They take a few laps around the building each morning and make sure they get their daily dose of cardiac exercises. Sean then has to rest in his wheel chair after a few minutes but they do try their best. They check their blood pressure each day just to ensure themselves that they aren’t over doing it.
You would expect Jim to gorge himself with junk food and snacks all day and you would be so wrong in assuming that. He enjoys the three meals a day as do the other residents and never wants or asks for anything other than that. His efforts are to lose his weight and get to a smaller size so he may go back and continue a normal life of helping others he runs into each day which he can’t do now since he is restricted by his health. Obviously Jim cannot contribute to our program as a vendor and bring in the necessary funds we need to survive but the bottom line is none of us here would trade this 460 pound man for three 150 pound men who could bring in solid money every day by selling their papers. No one can replace such a man with the heart, personality and love this “gentle -man” brings to us.
As a staff our goal is to keep this man alive so we may all enjoy him for a very long time. We are all better people since he has graced our facility with his presence as we have all learned a lesson about how petty we behave about our problems and realize life is what you choose to make of it.
Plan for Jim- As you can see by the before and after pictures our first goal as well as Jim’s goal was to get the water out of his legs. You see Jim became homeless when he could no longer pay his rent, and there was a time when he was even heavier when he lived on his own. His neighbor saw Jim walking down the street and then sit down and stayed in the same position outside for many hours. The nice person found out he was homeless and had no place to go so the neighbor took him here to the Homeless Voice Shelter.
Before he had gotten here there was a time he lost about 150 lbs because he could not always get up to eat and all he could do was lay in his bed. Then he thought to himself that ” I will use this as an advantage and if I run out of food and no one could take me to the store for a few days I would use that as a really bad and unhealthy diet “but in the long run it did pay off and he managed to lose about 150 lbs when he was at a weight of 610.
His brother had made him a reinforced bed and now that bed is at the shelter. Jim has his own special area where he sleeps and moves around slowly so he does not fall and get hurt. Once the bed got here Jim laid in it for a few days and most of the swelling is gone. If you look at the pictures one would imagine that he lost about 40 lbs in water weight. When that happens Jim was able to be very active in trying to exercise and has even managed to get his 150 foot walk to now over 1800 feet in just about a week’s time. When he first came in he was very short of breathe and if he got up after sitting down he was well winded and at one time we even had to call EMS for his lips turning blue form lack of oxygen and very high blood pressure.
Jim will continue to exercise and diet and the more weight he loses he will becomes more active and when his walk is stable and blood pressure normal we will move him to one of our houses where he can get out of the rat race at the shelter. That is, if he wants to. Rumor has it, he likes to see all the excitement here especially hearing all the stories of how people ended up at a homeless shelter. Sean has told Jim that, Jim has inspired Sean to work out more and try to lose weight faster so he can have the surgeries faster. Soon Sean and Jim will be able to walk a mile and just then we should be able to get a doctor to do Sean’s surgeries, all five to six of them. Sean is so impressed with Jim’s attitude and spirits that Sean felt that Jim should be on one of these weight lost TV shows and currently there is a team of big guys at the shelter including Sean who has sent in their pictures to see if they can lose weight.
In the mean time, Gail from the Shelters disabilities office will file for Social Security Disability for Jim based on all of his health concerns. After the local hospital saw the water in his legs and his high blood pressure the ER did nothing for him as far as meds were concerned so the shelters medical team will handle all his needs very soon. When Sean spoke to Jim about disability, Jim said he wanted to work. Sean then told Jim that he could still work and get paid and still get benefits and when his income got to be a normal living wage he could go off of disability. It kind of shows you that Jim expects to take care of Jim and does not want anything for free. This Jim for sure breaks the stereo type of what a lot of people think about the homeless.