LA CROSSE, Wis. (WXOW) --- Jim Bagniewski is kind of doing things backwards. The retired educator is in his 70's now and for the past five years, he's been working outside the classroom using his own truck and lots of muscle.
“There’s some heavy lifting but if you have enough people around. You know what they say more people makes a lighter load," said Jim.
For years, Jim taught at Central, UW-L and Viterbo providing vital information to area youth along with kindness and mentorship.
Today he provides what he calls another vital necessity, this time to people needing a fresh start.
“When you’re in school you help people learn and after that I mean what do I do to help people get along in life? I believe it’s a common basic good that people should have a place to stay and then they need some furniture to get their feet on the ground," said Jim.
Joan Waniger is the Coodinator for theExchange. It's like a food bank, only it provides furniture for those in need. Jim was one of theExchange's first volunteers.
“We couldn’t have grown this program without him," said Joan.
Two days a week, no matter the weather, Jim transports furniture items both large and small.
“He’s one of those people that should just walk around with a sign that says ‘I can help’ on his forehead,” said Joan.
Jim is referred to as a hometown hero. Volunteers even like working with him.
“He was that person that was phew he’s going to be here," said Joan.
For those on the receiving end, it's hard not to notice their appreciation.
“I saw a family they were coming down the steps and she was just crying saying I've never had such nice furniture in my life," said Jim.
Jim is of the thought that sometimes in life, you just need a little help.
And if that's the case, he says you've come to the right place.
“People say a lot of times if you want to get ahead it’s hard work, well from my experience it’s as much hard work as it is luck and sometimes people just for whatever reason are unlucky and those people need to find some foundation people in la crosse are a very giving society," said Jim.
500 people received help from theExchange last year. The list of people in need continues to grow. If you unwanted furniture items to donate go to
theexchangelacrosse.org for more information.