Russ Gosselin Bio
“Let Me Use This Whiteboard for a Minute, I’ll Show You What I Mean”
Russ Gosselin found Elevate Lives nearly 10 years ago, but his desire to serve God started much sooner than that. In his early years, Russ learned hard work as a bag boy at the local Alpha Beta grocery store in Southern California. He was promoted to night manager within a year. At 17, he accepted the Lord, and soon after Russ enrolled at L.I.F.E Bible College. He became the Student Body President at L.I.F.E under Dr. Jack Hayford. Russ says, “Under the Leadership of Dr. Jack Hayford, I saw firsthand what it meant to serve others.” It was solving problems in student government that Russ first learned to use a whiteboard to layout his vision for getting things done.
Two weeks after graduating, Russ and his wife were married, and started leading a small church in Mojave, CA. It was there that Russ and Sharon were led by the Lord to adopt their two children Joe and Janell. “The father’s heart concerning the lost and hurting was deepened by raising my adopted kids. I learned about God’s heart for his adopted kids by raising my own.”
After co-pastoring a second successful church plant in Palmdale, CA, God called Russ back into business, as a general contractor. It turned out Russ had a knack negotiating with city officials and insurance companies after L.A. earthquakes and he was able to grow his company when others were failing.
In 1994, God led him and his family to Colorado Springs. After a protracted time of fasting and prayer God gave Russ a business concept. Within a few months, Russ was able to gather a team of programmers and developers together to create a proprietary system that converted physical checks at the point of sale into electronic payments, which is now used in major retails environments, all without having any programming experience himself. But he had his whiteboard.
One day Russ was leading a cleanup project with his local church. A friend mentioned that a downtown elementary school principal needed some work done at her school.
Russ talked with the principal and heard the story of how difficult things were for the impoverished kids who attended here, many from fatherless homes. So Russ organized 85 volunteers on one Saturday morning to work at the school. The principal was dumbfounded. That one day, became hundreds of volunteers logging over 25,000 volunteer hours and many whiteboarding sessions, over the next three years. Cleanup and painting projects became “reading buddy programs” and vacation bible school. Single moms were thrilled and the principal reported higher test scores and a renewed sense of hope in participating families.
After a particular semester of hard work, Russ went to the principal and they decided they needed a celebratory school event to bring families and volunteers together. Russ mapped out the way the school gym should be setup on guess what…
that’s right, the principal’s whiteboard. “During one particular family event we organized, I saw a mother was watching her son playing a game. The look in her eyes was pure love, the same unconditional love I had for my 2 kids. In that moment I no longer saw these people as a weekly event or a statistic. I saw into their hearts, I saw God’s heart aching for his children to know him. And I knew what I was supposed to do.” And with that resounding success, Elevate Lives was born… On a whiteboard.
You can email Russ at RussG@ElevateLives.org