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Board Spotlight: Jim Densmore

When you serve on a board, you have obligations such as duty of care which is achieved by participating actively in making decisions on behalf of the organization, duty of loyalty by putting the interests of the organization before professional and personal interests, and duty of obedience by ensuring that the organization complies with all laws and adheres to its mission.

For some, these responsibilities may seem overwhelming especially since being a nonprofit board member is a serious commitment that has personal and legal consequences should things go wrong. Yet for Jim Densmore, this significant responsibility is one he fully embraces

Jim’s participation on the Matthew’s Hope Board was one that Founder Scott Billue sought during a period of organizational transition. As an active member of the West Orange Chamber of Commerce, several Matthew’s Hope board members recommended him for the position. “I think you have a real responsibility when you accept a position to be on a Board of Directors,” said Jim. “I was not very familiar with Matthew’s Hope, so I spoke with both former and current board members prior to making my decision. Through my research I learned much about the mission of Matthew’s Hope and its foundation as a Christian, faith-based organization.

Then, prior to making a final decision, I volunteered to see the ministry in action. This is something I still do today as I feel that it is vitally important to be involved in any organization that you are helping to shape and lead. You truly need to know how it works to provide proper stewardship. It was through both my research and my direct experience that I felt strongly that I was a good fit for the board.”

Other than a brief hiatus during the first wave of COVID, Jim has continued to volunteer twice a week on Outreach days. He willingly steps in to fill any role but especially enjoys the opportunity to join the mobile team. “It’s just an amazing organization,” he said. “You put something in, but you get so much more in return.”

Since joining the board in 2017, Jim has been amazed with the evolution of the organization.

“I have seen this ministry grow and blossom. I've seen it go from a small ministry to what it is today,” said Jim. “Scott sees a need and finds a way to make it happen. I just love that it's not a static organization. It's not the same old, same old--it grows! When I first joined, people found their way to us. Then when COVID hit, the ministry essentially pivoted overnight. First, we had one mobile operation with supplies and medical support and then two when we added the Apopka route. Recently I was both proud and impressed with Matthew’s Hope response to the last cold snap. When other organizations didn't or couldn’t step up to serve this at-risk community, the staff, volunteers, and our community partners established a cold shelter within hours. We filled a need, and our guests were just so thankful and incredibly grateful for what Matthew’s Hope did---and continues to do for them.”

Now on the Executive Board, Jim feels strongly that his primary role is to help guide the ministry and ensure good decisions are made to secure the future for the ministry. “Sometimes ideas come up with some board members not fully in agreement,” said Jim. “I try and apply a technique I learned when I was with Darden Restaurants called ‘consequential thinking.’ I look at the benefits as well as the things that really aren’t so beneficial. I evaluate the immediate impacts and those that may occur in the future. I consider impacts to our guests and our staff in addition to the ministry itself. I try and present my thoughts with this logic to create discussion and ultimately come to a decision with my peers on the board.”

In addition to his responsibilities to Matthew’s Hope, Jim is currently a realtor with Premier Sotheby’s International Realty specializing in both residential and commercial real estate. This career is a departure from his 18-year career in the restaurant industry which included the successful start-up of the Olive Garden concept as a Vice President of Operations with General Mills, now Darden Restaurants. Jim also is a Lifetime Director and an Ambassador for the West Orange Chamber of Commerce where he further serves the community by advocating for strong business partnerships.

Jim and his wife of 50 years, Susan, are the parents of three children Karyn, Jennifer, and James. After moving nine times in 18 years in support of Jim’s career, they are now permanently settled in Clermont, Florida, and enjoy time with their nine grandchildren and two great grandchildren. Jim finds strength and peace through his strong sense of faith and the devotional he and Susan read daily

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