Donor Voices: For Dick Richardson, It’s All About Making a Connection
Dick Richardson believes in making strong relationships with others, which guides his giving and volunteering. Project HOPE’s partnerships with local agencies is one of the reasons why he supports our work.
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Dick Richardson grew up in Missouri, went to school in Arkansas and Louisiana, and has lived in Hawaii, Michigan, and North Carolina. But wherever he calls home, his focus is on making human connections.
Retired from a distinguished career at the University of North Carolina — where he taught political science, served as department chair, and was appointed vice-chancellor of academic affairs and provost — Dick now fills much of his time volunteering.
He is active with a local chapter of Yokefellows Prison Ministry, an organization founded on the idea that people’s lives are changed through committed relationships. Trained volunteers meet with inmates inside North Carolina’s prisons and support their families and children. The goal is to create a strong network of support and fellowship for prisoners so they can successfully transition to a new life once released.
“If they do not have something on the outside to connect them to, they go back into prison,” Dick says.
Two years ago, Dick also became a “grandfriend” through his church, where he provides care and guidance to a child in need. Dick says he and his “adopted” grandchild have grown close and continue to stay connected through virtual and socially distanced visits.
“It is the most wonderful thing that’s happened to me in the last two years,” he says.
Dick has been supporting Project HOPE for nearly 20 years. When asked what inspires him about Project HOPE, his answer is no surprise: it’s Project HOPE’s relationships with local agencies. Those important partnerships help create long-term impact — impact that often helps children, which is important to him.
Dick is also grateful for Project HOPE’s work this year providing training and PPE to health workers so they can fight the spread of COVID-19.
“I think it’s a splendid organization,” he says.
Dick’s own year has been spent reading and writing — and strengthening relationships right at home. He and his wife Sue have gained a new closeness, which has been a highlight of the year, he says. “We’ve walked a little and we’ve talked a lot, which has been very good for us.”
But of course, not regularly seeing their children and grandchildren has been “awfully hard” because “family is so important to us.”
Despite these difficulties, Dick says he and Sue have been fortunate, which drives their philanthropy and volunteerism.
“We’ve received much, we should give much,” he says. “I try to reach out as much as possible with as much as we can give—with a combination of gifts and working directly with people, because you need both.”
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