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In Memoriam: James Paul Burk

Dear readers, I want to apologize that the blog has been silent over the past month. A lot of things have happened at Youth Heartline, including the untimely passing of one of our family and a dear, close personal friend.

This post is not about that friend (that will come later), but about another Youth Heartline family member we lost in November of last year. This most recent passing has been difficult, not least because it's a heavy reminder of our loss of James Paul Burk. A dear friend, and compassionate warrior for abused and neglected kids.

Jim grew up and lived for most of his life in Los Angeles, but moved out to Raton, NM where one of his sons was in the local fire department.

He joined the Youth Heartline family as a CASA advocate in 2014, and I first met him at his swearing-in before Judge Paternoster. He was blunt, down-to-earth, and often had a sharp tongue. We hit it off right from the start.

During his service with us as a CASA volunteer, he was an untiring, focused, but compassionate advocate for the many foster kids who were his. And that's how we talked about it, they were his kids, and he loved them and cared for them as if they were -- in the best way possible. Without fail, he would drive hours to visit them. His kids cared for him because they knew he was theirs.

in 2016, Jim became a Youth Heartline employee -- and if it's possible, he became even more dedicated to children. Speaking with Jim's surviving family, they often described his involvement with kids and Youth Heartline as a redemptive final chapter in Jim's life. I only knew Jim after he came to Raton, but he had spoken often enough of his previous life (or lives) with enough saltiness that I was sure the Jim I knew was a different from the Jim of his past.

And this Jim was a joy. He was funny and prickly, but all business when it came to our work of helping kids. He knew virtually everything that was going on in his kids' lives, and if you stumped him on some tiny detail, he would pull out a beat up, black day-planner that was always with him and tell you exactly what you wanted to know.

This past year has been a tough one, not least of which because we lost Jim. I miss you, friend. In your long life, you were given more work than most, and you hit it out of the park. Well done. Rest in peace.

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