TJG Note: For clients Dave and Kim Ransom, choosing to live lives of significance while also achieving success is, in part, a response to the biblical challenge: “from whom much has been given, much is expected.” Joseph Group CEO Matt Palmer sat down recently with Dave and Kim in their lovely New Albany home to discuss their passion for serving those in need.
MATT: Let’s start by having you two introduce yourselves to our readers.
KIM: Dave is from the Chicago area and I was raised in West Frankfort, a small town in southern Illinois. We met in 1984 at Eastern Illinois University and married in May of 1986. Our oldest daughter, Bryanna, is married to Troy and they live in Los Angeles. Our youngest daughter, Morgan, just completed her graduate studies and is living in Gainesville.
DAVE: We moved to Columbus in the early 1990s. I joined a local recruiting firm and Kim was a teacher. In 1998 I made the decision to start my own executive search firm, The Ransom Group. Shortly after that, Kim made the decision to leave teaching in order to assist me and have more time with the girls.
MATT: Your business has been very successful and as a result, you two are blessed financially. But your focus in life is not on building or accumulating wealth, it’s serving those in need. Share with our readers more about that – how you’re serving others and what motivates you to do it.
KIM: When we decided to spend part of the year in Florida, I knew I wanted to get involved with some form of ministry that serves women and children in crisis. Through our church, Christ Fellowship in Palm Beach Gardens, we learned about Place of Hope; a Christian ministry that offers comprehensive services designed to end the cycle of abuse and neglect. Within that ministry, I volunteer at Joann’s Cottage – a transitional home for pregnant girls that provides professional case management, independent living resources, parenting classes, access to quality medical care, and other support services to ensure the safety and well-being of these mothers and their children. In addition, Joann’s Cottage offers residential care, supervision, and other healthy influences that strive to meet each girl’s physical, emotional, social, spiritual, and educational needs.
As a volunteer, one of my specific duties is to prepare the evening meal. This not only strengthens the girls’ cooking skills but allows me to listen to them, encourage them, pray with them and mentor them. I love being with them and getting the chance to see them grow and mature.
I also serve as a teaching assistant in a kindergarten classroom at West Riviera Elementary School, located in a very impoverished area of town. I guess it’s pretty clear that I love children!
Kim with her kindergarten students
MATT: It sure is! What would you say is the greatest benefit you receive from the volunteer work you do?
KIM: That’s simple: JOY! The joy of being part of a 5-year-old’s success in kindergarten. And the even greater joy of seeing these teenage girls have their babies and grow toward maturity as Christians and as young mothers. I always come away with a new appreciation for the blessings that Dave and I have been given.
I receive so much more than I give – that’s for sure.
MATT: I can see the joy on your face right now as we chat. Awesome!
MATT: Dave, let’s turn now to you. Share with our readers what led you to become so active with Kindway/Embark.
DAVE: Eighteen years ago a friend invited me to go to Marion Correctional Institution as part of a Kairos experience. Kairos is a Christian ministry that shares the love of Christ with incarcerated men and women during a 3-day retreat. After this particular weekend, I sensed God’s call to continue weekly volunteering as part of the follow-up 22-week mentoring process. With two young children, this was a huge commitment. Kim was so important in that decision; without hesitation, she encouraged me to continue in that ministry.
I and several other volunteers realized that little was being done to prepare inmates for success when they returned to society (as a result, the national rate of recidivism was about 50%). In response, we developed a comprehensive re-entry program that would work with a select group of inmates to provide support beginning a year prior to their release and continuing up to one year after their release.
In addition, we assigned each participant an outside mentor who would come into the prison and help that participant design a personal transition plan. To help ensure success, we secured housing, employment opportunities, and developed a faith community. The result of all of the above was the founding of a Columbus-based Christian ministry that we named Kindway. Its mission is to invest in the lives of those impacted by incarceration.
Fast forward, the ministry now selects 14 men at Marion Correctional Institution (MCI) and 14 women at the Ohio Reformatory for Women each year, and that number will grow. To date, more than 100 participants have gone through the program and are now living successfully in society. I think the most rewarding part of my involvement ultimately is visiting the prison and meeting the men who are in the program and preparing for release.
MATT: Are there particular participants that stand out as you look back at your involvement?
DAVE: Each is unique. Given the amount of time I have known our participants, some having been incarcerated for more than 15 years, it is so rewarding to see them finally walk out of prison and begin a life of independence and freedom. To be an eyewitness to God’s grace and forgiveness has been a true blessing for me.
EMBARK graduation ceremony inside Marion Correctional Institution
MATT: Kim shared her reasons for giving so much of herself to young mothers and children. Why do you invest yourself in Kindway?
DAVE: That’s easy, I myself am a product of second chances. I have had people step into my life when I needed it most. I have come to realize that my success is not from my efforts alone and that God equips each of us in different ways for different reasons. I also believe that we have two types of “accounts” in life: a bank account and a time account. As Kim and I move into our mid 50’s, our “time account” is more important to us – we have a sense of urgency to focus on those things that have eternal value.
Like Kim, I’ve received great joy from my years of volunteer work – both from the standpoint of witnessing true transformation in the lives of Kindway participants as well as my own transformation from serving as a volunteer these last 18 years. Perspective is a powerful thing that often occurs when you choose to take a path less traveled. The decision to become a volunteer has impacted my life in a profound way.
MATT: Thank you, Dave, for your powerful sharing. Let’s turn to legacy – how do each of you want to be remembered?
KIM: As a person who cared deeply for others, especially others in need. And that what I did helped them to experience a beautiful life and a relationship with Christ that they otherwise might not have known.
Kim (at left) is also involved with Kindway and volunteers at Kindware events. Kindware is handcrafted jewelry made by incarcerated men and women.
DAVE: I want others to remember that I used the time God gave me to bring great value to those I served and loved. And that I didn’t squander the resources God gave me, but used them for others.
Kindway’s EMBARK program provides housing to participants re-entering society after incarceration.
MATT: Those are beautiful legacies and you are well on your way to achieving them. Thank you for sharing so deeply from your hearts with our readers.