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Neighborhood Heroes - James Burns helps others recover from their 'dark and ugly' past
07032020 James Burns
James Burns, who works at Christian Brothers Automotive, was nominated for the Forsyth County News's "Neighborhood Heroes" contest. - photo by Kelly Whitmire

James Burns, of Christian Brothers Automotive, has been in the automotive business for more than 20 years but said it was only recently that he discovered his true passion isn’t cars -- it’s people.

Burns was recently selected as one of four winners of Forsyth County News's “Neighborhood Heroes” contest.

07032020 Neighborhood Heroes

“I've been known throughout my life to be a people person,” Burns said. “My past was real dark and ugly, so to be able to have the ability to stand in the middle of the state of this group of people, or even be nominated, is by far an honor to me, as well as my family.”

For more than 20 years, Burns dealt with a cocaine addiction until, on Sept. 24, 2014, he decided he “didn't want to die” and entered into treatment at No Longer Bound

“It helped restore my life,” he said. “It gave me an opportunity to see and understand who I wasn't, but also it showed me how to love myself and how to care for others and showed me how to be a father and husband to my wife and children.”

Burns said once he left the program, he decided he wanted to help others, and he and his wife began WeCovery: A Family Like No Other, a group for those in and supporting recovery that meets monthly at their home.

He is also heavily involved with Free Chapel church, where he serves on the altar team. Recently during the quarantine, he drove more than 260 miles to deliver communion to church members so they could all take it together during a streamed service.

“We wanted to make sure that the families attending Free Chapel and the families supporting Free Chapel had an availability to do communion with us virtually,” Burns said, “so once everybody got on the Zoom call, we delivered communion to them the week before throughout all of Cumming, Dawsonville, into Canton, into Roswell, Sandy Springs, Gwinnett, the people who attend our church as well as the friends and family that were on the list that would love to participate in it.”

Burns said by being so involved in the community, he hopes to spread a light to others and said that change requires looking at yourself and “can't start with pointing the finger outwards.”

“I believe if everyone would take a look at what we've got going on right now, there's nothing wrong with being nice,” Burns said. “There's nothing wrong with helping somebody. Sure, it is going to take away from something you want to do. Sure, it is going to cost you more time. Sure, it may cost you more money. But at the end of the day, how do you want to be remembered? The legacy I want to be remembered as is the guy that would do for anything for anybody."