Walk in Their Shoes
Can One Person Change the World?
Jim Ziolkowski gave up his career in corporate finance to create buildOn, a service-oriented program that goes into high-risk areas around the world to work with students in their communities. Under Jim’s leadership, buildOn volunteers have contributed more than 850,000 hours of community service, and the organization has constructed more than 430 schools worldwide, from the South Bronx, to Detroit, Chicago, and Oakland, to Haiti, Senegal, Nicaragua, and Nepal.
Walk in Their Shoes is packed with the ingredients of a powerful bestseller as it traces Jim’s story from his transformation from a thrill-seeking twenty-something backpacker, to a Harlem-based idealist trying to launch a not-for-profit organization, and finally to the head of buildOn.
Ziolkowski compellingly chronicles his exciting story of worldwide travel and adventure, creating a moving portrait of the power of faith, teamwork, and the boundless potential of the human spirit. Blessed with relentless optimism and an unshakable faith, both of which have fortified his commitment to the poor and the underprivileged, Jim Ziolkowski’s inspirational memoir reveals that helping and empathizing with others can help—and heal—ourselves.
Twenty-one years ago, Ziolkowski, then a student in the financial management program at GE Capital, was being groomed for a promising career, but after a backpacking trip in Nepal showed him how simple generosity could change the lives of the impoverished, he quit the course and founded the nonprofit buildOn, which brings education to inner-city teens, and transforms them into community service leaders in the U.S. and abroad. After struggling to secure funding and organize volunteers, Ziolkowski begins traveling the globe, documenting injustices in apartheid-era South Africa and among the street children of Brazil, while rallying the community to come together and build schools for their children. Along the way, he meets activists, struggling families, and even Mother Teresa, who provide encouragement and share their stories. Whether discussing female genital mutilation in Mali or the circumstances of volunteer students in Detroit, Ziolkowski balances sobering facts with an approachable writing style. His unflinching determination drove him to establish over 500 schools, turning buildOn from a nascent dream into a multimillion-dollar phenomenon. He believed that one person could indeed change the world, and his story may inspire others to do the same.