Jim Cumisky will tell you he wasn’t an angel as a youth.

“I got into trouble, but nothing that would land me in detention. Mostly petty stuff,” he said.

Jim was at Ranch Ehrlo from 1983 to ’86. He learned many things from the time he was at the agency including an interest in history from one of his youth care workers named Richard.

He said, “He was an ex-Roughrider, and he had a real interest in history. He got me so fascinated with the subject that I actually went on and did a couple of years at Concordia University studying history.”

Jim said he believes knowing where a person comes from guides where they’re going. That belief directed him to complete a mental health worker program in Vancouver following in the steps of Ranch staff who had spent so much time with Jim.

Following his post-secondary graduation, Jim worked as a direct care worker for a time but decided at the age of 25 to travel the world.

He said, “I went to New Zealand for a year, and worked, and came back. When I was 26, I bought a one-way ticket to southeast Asia and went to Singapore, then I went to Sumatra across through into Malaysia.”

It was while staying in a hut on the island of Ko Pha-ngan in Thailand when he met his future wife, who was British, and they’ve been together for 25 years.

After a stopover in Australia, they moved to England. His grandmother was a war bride, so he was able to move to the United Kingdom.

He said, “When I first got to England originally, I got a job in the civil service, and I worked in a young offenders 18 to 24 program.”

After a promotion to an international relations department for UNESCO, the government downsized the civil service and offered him a buyout. He used the money to purchase a property in London, flipped it, and bought two more. He made this his new career.

“I retired at the age of 48 and moved to Portugal. Retiring at 48 is not what it’s cracked up to be. Boring is what it is.”

Jim and his wife have recently decided to expand their property business into Portugal.

Ranch Ehrlo changed his life. He said that prior to coming to the Ranch, he didn’t see a future in anything.

“A lot of the (Ranch) staff were really inspirational to me. I think because of the people I was around I never thought to myself that I would go to university. Never thought to myself that I would be able to succeed.”

Jim said his favourite part of his Ranch experience was the therapeutic camping trips, and he learned the most from those experiences.

During his time at the Ranch, he said he learned self-reliance, and when a person gets knocked back in life, to keep going. He said that he used the pride in himself to keep moving forward.

“When I was living in Vancouver, I met a guy who was at the Ranch in the late ‘60s and early ‘70s. He did really well in life. He was a fish exporter and he had offices in Iceland, Vancouver, and the east coast. He was a really fascinating guy actually. It was interesting to see people from different times who had been (at the Ranch),” Jim said.

Jim considers himself lucky that he’s a Canadian citizen with the ability to live and own property in different places around the world. This Ranch Ehrlo participant has really gone far!