Jim Bastian is known to many in the local South Orange County community. We know him from his involvement for many years as past board member and president of The Bell Tower Foundation; others know him for his committment to his clients at his Shulman Hodges & Bastian LLP, and others know him for his tireless committment to giving back to society and our local communities through his philanthropy and as a volunteer.
We recently caught up with Bastian to ask him about his thoughts on volunteerism and how he defines "community".
What organizations have you volunteered for?
Over the years I have been actively involved in Rotary International, Orange County Bankruptcy Forum, California Bankruptcy Forum, Orange County Bar Association, Santa Ana Unified Stay in School Mentor Program, Saddleback Valley Recreation Department, Trabuco Canyon Little League, Santa Margarita Pop Warner, National Junior Basketball, Bell Tower Foundation, West LA Little League, Habitat For Humanity, Orange County Fire Authority Benevolent Association, Boys Town, Pediatric Cancer Research Foundation, Church Of The Master Sunday School Teacher, Wagon Wheel Elementary PTA, and Mission Hospital Foundation.
How does volunteering enrich your life?
It allows me to apply my skills, experience and education in pursuits that are beyond my career. It feels better sometimes to give time and energy to a cause that is not for personal financial gain. I also get a great deal from helping people.
What should others know about volunteering?
It actually helps you in your job or career by giving you the opportunity to grow—you work on things that are beyond your normal comfort zone and lets you develop skills in areas that you might not otherwise have exposure to.
What do you do when you're not volunteering?
I am a partner in a law firm, Shulman Hodges & Bastian LLP, heading our insolvency and bankruptcy practice group.
How long have you lived in Rancho Santa Margarita and what do you love most about it?
I have lived in the Saddleback Valley since 1980, and in Trabuco Canyon/Coto area since 1995. I love the family environment, the community spirit, the facilities, the weather and how nice it is.
What does "community" mean to you?
People coming together for a common goal or purpose.
What do you want to say to those thinking about how they can get involved in their community?
Find your passion, find an organization that means something to you, roll up your sleeves and just do it.
Share a brief story about volunteering.
Hands on projects are always the best. With Habitat for Humanity, I was able to help build veteran’s housing in San Juan. I am not a very handy person as my wife will tell you and am more likely to injure myself with power tools than actually build something.
With Habitat they taught me how to operate a pretty sizeable piece of equipment called a “ditch witch” which is basically a really big chain saw on wheels that allows you to dig ditches and trenches really quickly. Getting behind the ditch witch and digging ditches and trenches for an afternoon was really cool.
I was completely out of my comfort zone and had the best time and actually did the job well enough that the project manager gave me an A+ for my work. I am sure they were just being nice and had to fix my work after I left the project!
What organizations do you know that have volunteer opportunities coming up?
Habitat For Humanity always has something going on, local sports teams always need help with officiating, coaching and administration, Boys Town has a lot of opportunities at their Trabuco Canyon campus. Mission Hospital has many opportunities too.
How have you benefitted from someone else volunteering in your community?
Too numerous to list here but every time I volunteer there is a person, or group of people, who benefit from the work (at least I hope so!). The kids I coach or teach in Sunday School, the veterans who now occupy those houses in San Juan, the kids at Boys Town, so many I cannot count. I would like to think that they all were helped in some way by my efforts.
Tell us about someone who has inspired you by their generous gift of volunteering?
My wife Elizabeth and daughter Caroline give so much of their time to so many causes. We have tried to instill in our kids the awesome experience you get from volunteering and seeing my wife show my kids by example is inspirational to me and to them.
The Bell Tower Foundation is a Volunteer Connection Hub bringing people and organizations together through volunteer opportunities. It believes that volunteerism enriches the lives of everyone—those who give and receive. Connect with The Bell Tower Foundation on Facebook at facebook.com/TheBellTowerFoundation or on its website at belltowerfoundation.org