“I know what it is to be rich; I know what it is to be poor….My personal struggles were necessary preparation to enable me to help others.”
Jim grew up in a Greek family in the northern suburbs of Melbourne. He describes his young self as a spoilt teenager but he was no stranger to adversity and challenge. He struggled at school as a result of dyslexia and a speech impediment, and he experienced the isolating effects of bullying. At the age of 13, Jim had the grit and determination to teach himself to overcome his stammering and stuttering and began his personal quest by reading the Australian and Herald newspapers, from cover to cover, daily.
Jim left school at an early age to work in the family furniture business, and soon ventured out to set up his own enterprises in property development and a stock and share trading firm. By the time he was in his mid 20’s, Jim was a successful body builder, model and entrepreneur. He experienced personal achievement and the trappings of wealth, and was semiretired at the age of 28.
As fast and steep as his rise, the use and abuse of steroids and drugs, a drastic change in the stock market and a divorce, brought Jim’s life crashing to a breakdown.
Jim says that the experience was a light bulb moment that taught him empathy and compassion. He became inspired by The Purpose Driven Life (Rick Warren), and he perceived his struggles to be the necessary preparation to enable him to help others in need.
Jim began charity work in the Christian community and discovered that real joy comes from helping others.
“God gave me a new set of values and they guide me to help others; It is a brand new life. When you focus on somebody else and improving their life instead of focussing on yourself, you experience a shift, a different focus, a different confidence. Wow. It’s the best feeling.”
Jim began working for other outreach and big brother programs and then went on to establish:
A youth program for children between 8-16 years old
A men’s refuge which has been running for almost 20 years
Men’s Christian support groups in Williamstown, Brunswick and Thornbury
An outreach program supplying food packs, hygiene packs, and celebrations for Mothers Day, Fathers Day, Christmas and Easter.
This was the groundwork that led to the establishment of Endless Horizons, and the ongoing community work that Jim continues to do for others. He gives wholeheartedly to the youths he helps and offers them a place of non judgement and care. When Jim takes a troubled person under his wing, he tells them, “Don’t forget, I’m always here for you. We are family, and friends for life.”
“I love giving back because I have a heart for people and community. I can see that many young people need purpose and direction. I can see myself in them and feel their pain and their joy when they strip away their masks. It’s sometimes hard work but it’s important to move away from peer pressure and to assert your own values.”
Neda grew up in a Serbian family in Wollongong, NSW. The middle child between two brothers, Neda quickly learned to become hardy and resilient, and popular among many groups of friends. Vibrant and rebellious, Neda succumbed to peer pressure and gave in to alcohol and drug use, just to be accepted and belong, until her personal search for identity led her to change.
“Change starts with ourselves. I changed my mindset and decided to surround myself with good quality people and I turned my life around. I found my relationship with Jesus Christ by going to home fellowship and I knew I was in a good, safe place. For the first time I was myself, I was REAL, not a people pleaser influenced by others.”
“I reset my mind and became raw, and I began listening, looking and learning…. When I met Jim in 2012, I found someone to share that with. We both have a love for community and a heart for other people, especially the next generation. We love to help others.”
Neda works alongside Jim and is dynamic in her community work. She is passionate about redeeming the lives of young people and she has helped save the lives of drug addicts, children in troubled homes and teenagers in gangs. She has inspired them to turn their lives around and find their own identity and purpose.
“Peer pressure brought out the worst in me because I didn’t know who I really was and I craved belonging. But today, I know who I am and I want to bring out the best in people and give them the Christian values that I discovered when I learned about God.”