The legacy of Jim Goodheart—former superintendent of what used to be called Sunshine Rescue Mission—has been passed down by many, including his great-grandson, Tim Browne. Through research for his new novel based on Jim’s life, Larimer Street, Tim learned more about his personal history and shared knowledge with us on his great-grandfather’s impactful legacy.
When Jim Goodheart came into what used to be called Living Waters Mission in 1907, his life changed. He came in seeking help with his struggle with alcoholism and ended up finding faith, hope and redemption.
In 1909, Jim became superintendent and renamed it Sunshine Rescue Mission. One of his significant impacts on the Mission was bringing it out of debt through efforts such as starting the Sunshine Messenger—a newsletter consisting of stories from people staying at the Mission, advertisements for local businesses, notes from Jim’s sermons, and financial updates.
Because Jim struggled with addiction like many others on the streets, he cared deeply about those experiencing homelessness in Denver. “Jim saw everybody as equal,” Tim said. “It wasn’t ‘these poor homeless,’ rather, ‘I’m one of them; they’re me.’ That’s one of the beauties of his life, that he treated everybody as an equal.”
Jim’s wife, Ada, was also an instrumental person to the Mission during Jim’s time as superintendent. Through constant prayer and playing a pump organ out on the street, she helped encourage many people to come to the Mission.
“My great-grandmother was such a prayer warrior. She really was the heart of the ministry,” Tim said. “I have her Bible with tons of notes in it, reminding Jim to do something or with a good idea for him to speak about. It’s easy to focus on Jim because he was the figurehead in all of this, but I know that Ada was the power behind it.”
Throughout his leadership at the Mission, Jim was also a chaplain for jails in Denver as well as served as a chaplain for the 96th Aerial Bombardment Squadron in World War I. But after coming back from the war, alcoholism and depression crept back up on Jim. He struggled to continue running the Sunshine Rescue Mission, which led him to stepping down as superintendent.
Jim’s story is one that does not lack challenges, but it is inspiring, nonetheless. “Jim’s story represents the story of all of us; we’ve
all gone through hardships in our lives, whether health problems, financial problems or addiction,” Tim said. “His story is a perfect example of how messy [life] is, how beautiful it is and how redeemed it is.”
Even after leaving the Mission, Jim continued to hold strong onto his faith, as that was the most important thing in his life. “Even though he went through some really hard things, he really did find peace,” Tim said. “He found his identity in God…not the Mission, not family or this or that…and that’s what he held on to through everything.”
Jim’s legacy continues today through our 130th year of service and through generations of his family, like Tim, passing on the story of his life. Although Tim never got to meet his great-grandfather, he feels deeply grateful for the life Jim led.
“[If I met him], I would just say thank you for your life, and not only what [you] did for the Mission,” Tim said. “I think his life just represents God’s goodness and moving all of us toward Him.”
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