A West Virginia couple supporting an organization with values they share.
JIM JUSTICE CHOOSES to support Scouting today based on his memories of yesterday—his youthful experiences as a Boy Scout. “I keep going back to the foundations,” he says.
Although his time as a Scout wasn’t especially intense, and his advancement through the ranks was modest, Jim says that what he learned there about being a good citizen stayed with him. Among the lessons he got from being involved with Scouting were the importance of honor and truth and the difference between right and wrong. “Those are the kinds of things that I think are really important—those initial foundations in my life,” he says. “It’s hard to measure what those meant to me.”
Today, the one-time West Virginia Scout is a businessman with interests in areas such as agriculture and travel. As the CEO of the Justice Family Group in Beaver, W.Va., he still leans on those early foundations for support. And he says that the employees of the family company also, through him, benefit from the character lessons that Scouting imparts.
The way the leader of an organization behaves, Jim says, is the way everyone in the organization will eventually behave. “I’m a believer that if you run with the coonhounds long enough, sooner or later you’re going to start barking like a coonhound,” he says. Too many young people in America, he feels, have been running with the wrong set of values, and it’s not doing the country any good.
He considers Scouting, on the other hand, to be like a factory. Instead of turning out manufactured products, though, the BSA factory produces good citizens. That’s why Jim recently decided to become a major financial supporter of the Summit Bechtel Reserve, site of the 2013 National Scout Jamboree and located not far from his home in Lewisburg.
Although he loves that the Summit is practically in his own backyard, Jim says he based his decision to support the future high-adventure base on a hardheaded evaluation of the likely return on investment. “I don’t know of anything that’s more impacting, from a philanthropic standpoint,” he says of Scouting.
Jim’s wife, Cathy, also believes Scouting offers her and her husband an opportunity to extend his efforts in the other work he does with people, including coaching high school basketball for boys and girls. “He not only tries to instill basketball lessons but life lessons—for them to be good citizens and responsible and trustworthy,” she says.
When it comes to advising others on how they might support Scouting, Jim is at something of a loss. He became aware of the opportunity to get involved with the Summit almost by accident, when a close friend and hunting partner told him about the Scouting movement’s need. But he has a firm opinion about what kind of people might want to back Scouting: people who feel dismayed about the current state of America’s character and want to restore and rebuild it.
“I grew up in this little Norman Rockwell painting, where we never locked our houses and left our keys in the car,” he says. “I rode my bike to school over a mile and rode home for lunch. That was 50 years ago. If we regress in the next 50 years as much as we have in the past 50 years, where are we going to be?”
That, of course, remains to be seen. But Jim feels confident that he’s doing what he can to help turn the country’s outlook from bad to good. “I know that I feel really, really good,” he says, “that what’s coming out of this is goodness.”
Why We Give: To help kids learn to help others
Cathy and Jim Justice have two children, including a daughter who was involved in Scouting and a son who wasn’t. So they have personal experience with the influence Scouting can have on children and families. And that’s why they support it. “Our values align with Scouting’s values,” Cathy says. “And we believe this is the future of America. They’re going to be the leaders of tomorrow.”
Listen to the Justices, and you’ll sense that their support of Scouting is more than just an opportunity to help a cause. “It’s an obligation, too,” Jim says. “We’ve been very, very blessed. And as long as the good Lord gives me breath, I’m going to keep trying to give back and create things for the betterment of mankind.”
Cathy adds that Scouting is an easy organization to help. She takes pleasure in seeing how children who got involved with Scouting have gone on to become good citizens, with high morals and exemplary values. And the kids seem to enjoy it, too.
“Kids are really hungry for this knowledge,” Cathy says. “A lot of this has been lost or maybe just isn’t in homes as much as it used to be in the past. It means a lot to us to see children become good citizens and responsible people and then go on to help other people.”
LEARN MORE about the Summit by visiting summit.scouting.org.