JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - James “Slim” Gordon’s laughter fills the morning stillness at the Florida Yacht Club, where he’s been a waiter for nearly 13 years.
His personality draws others in, so it’s no surprise everyone knows him.
“Every time you walk into the club he’s got a hug and a smile,” club member Kendall Taylor said.
It’s Slim’s intuition, his ability to know when someone needs comfort, that sticks with Taylor.
“My dad was in bad shape and I came in and was just really in a bad place and Slim came up, hugged me, gave me a kiss on the head and life got better,” she said.
Like so many others, Slim and his family evacuated to a hotel during Hurricane Irma. They returned home the Monday after the storm to check on their property, found some roof damage and decided to return to the hotel because they didn’t have power.
When Slim returned the next day, he found a broken screen and window.
“When we went inside, everything from room to room had been robbed,” he said. “All electronic stuff, my wife’s jewelry, my daughter’s jewelry and iPhones.”
While all that can be replaced, the burglars also stole his wife’s sense of security.
“Her and my daughter, they’re in the process now of talking to the realtor to see what options they have,” Slim said. “Because they don’t feel comfortable in the house anymore.”
When Taylor heard what happened to Slim, she immediately started brainstorming ways to help. She launched a GoFundMe account, which had raised more than $14,000 as of Thursday afternoon.
“It was just something we needed to do,” Taylor said.
More than 100 people have donated to help Slim.
“Absolutely amazing, man,” he said. “That people could feel that way about me that I never would have thought felt like that.”
For Taylor and so many others, Slim has been the bright spot on a dark day. And no matter how much money they give back, they feel they’ll never be able to repay him.
“Slim is the epitome of what’s right in the world,” Taylor said. “There’s so much wrong, he’s the epitome of what’s right.”