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Hospital Board Member Pays it Back by Paying it Forward

There are not many feelings in life comparable to helping others and being a part of something bigger than yourself. Jim Atkins, a member of the Board of Governors for the Philadelphia Shriners Hospital, knows this feeling well and has learned a lot in his time being a Shriner and board member.

Shriners International is the fraternity that founded Shriners Hospitals for Children as its official philanthropy in 1922. The fraternity, which has nearly 200 chapters in several countries, and thousands of clubs around the world, continues to support this unique health care system.

Jim was diagnosed with spinal meningitis when he was 4 months old and was not expected to live. He survived, but ended up having lasting paralysis that still affects him today. To help regain his mobility, he started physical therapy at Shriners Hospitals for Children — Philadelphia when he was 9.

While his time at the hospital as a child helped introduce Jim to the work that Shriners do, he had also known about the fraternity before. His father is a Blue Lodge Mason, and his uncle, who recommended that Jim receive care at the hospital, is also a Shriner. In addition, while growing up he had a Shriner neighbor who acted as a “second father” to him.

As Jim progressed into adulthood, he became a Mason in 1996, advanced in his degrees, became a Shriner in 2000 and joined North Penn Shrine Club the same year. He has been the secretary of North Penn since 2002. He has participated in many fundraisers for the hospital, including our most recent Walk for LOVE™ event in October.

Jim has been a board member of the Philadelphia Shriners Hospital since 2019, but became a full voting member this year. He has become known as a “cliché guy.” One of his favorites is: “You’re the product of the people you surround yourself with.”

Talking about his work with the Shriners, he said “For me, it’s just about being a good Shriner. I’ve become a much better person since I’ve been helping others. The work we do just shows you that you never accomplish anything by yourself.”

Working in the medical education software industry, Jim brings a business-savvy eye to the board. He was drawn to the board because of the insights he could bring to the business side of the hospital. “I like seeing the numbers in how everything operates,” Jim said. “It’s an absolute honor and privilege to be a member of the board.”

Jim is looking forward to 2021 and everything opening back up, but he expressed it a little differently than one might expect. “I look forward to representing the Shriners in the best way that I can,” he said. “I can’t mention anything specific, because every opportunity that I have here is so special to me.”

Jim Atkins

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