Written by President and CEO, Denise Barkhurst
“We should love each other – that means caring for our neighbors. Where those in mourning are comforted, where the hungry are fed, where the poor hear good news. Our foundation strives to give energy to those angels among us who are actively caring for such neighbors.” – Jack & Laura Richmond
In 1984, I was a high school senior. I didn’t know it, but so was Wade Richmond, the 18-year-old son of Jack and Laura Richmond of the Richmond Family Foundation. I never knew Wade and only learned about his tragic passing when I first met Jack Richmond in 2014.
We were in the midst of a capital campaign at Big Brothers Big Sisters of South Texas in 2014, and I was introduced to Jack by our campaign consultant. While waiting for him in his conference room at that first meeting, I read Wade’s story, and although 30 years had passed, I was struck with sadness that I had gone on to live a full life after high school, while Wade had not.
So when Jack asked us during that meeting if we wanted to participate in the $100,000 Richmond Foundation matching Grant Challenge the following year in 2015, I was deeply honored to accept. I knew that I was going to be raising money not only for the children in our program, but for Wade – to continue his legacy of support for the angels among us.
As a parent, I can’t think of anything worse than losing a child. Jack and Laura Richmond lost their beloved son on the cusp of Wade’s adulthood. I was truly inspired by how they moved forward after that heartbreak, to form the Richmond Family Foundation in 1998, and then the Wade Richmond Foundation a few years later. They turned their tragedy into a world of opportunity for thousands of children and families served by all the nonprofits who have benefited from their matching challenge grants since 1998.
We raised over $100,000 for the 2015 challenge, and one of the proudest moments of our capital campaign for me was when Jack and Laura came out to our old building downtown to present us with a check.* We finished our capital campaign the following year and moved in to our Mentoring Center in October 2016. Since then we have been able to implement all the program enhancements we told Jack about that first day in his conference room.
Jack passed away earlier this year, right before COVID hit, but in 2019 he had once again invited us to participate in his Challenge, for August 2020. And it turns out that if there was ever a year that Big Brothers Big Sisters needed a $100,000 matching grant – it would be this one.
Fundraising has taken a big hit in COVID. Big Brothers Big Sisters has had to cancel all of its annual fundraising events, and revenue is down in every budget category. We are anticipating a year end deficit of anywhere between 10-21% of projected 2020 revenue.
One of the ways we hope to close this gap is through the Richmond Matching Campaign in August 2020. During August, we will be asking everyone to donate to this campaign, and their money will be doubled by the foundation!
Also happening in August is our new fundraising event: Car Wash for Kids’ Sake. Anyone who donates to this event in August will also have their donation doubled. You can visit our website to learn about the Richmond Challenge or here to find out more about the Car Wash.
We are determined to meet our matching goal and receive another one of these.
*Everyone knows my favorite thing is a check presentation and I look forward to the one we will be having in September 2020 after all our supporters help us make our $100,000 match. I will miss Jack’s proud smiling face at that one though. May he rest in peace.
BONUS JACK STORY:
Below is a picture of Big Brothers Big Sisters Chief Development Director, Hawthorne Farr with Jack at one of Jack’s infamous Luby’s Kiwanis meetings. Hawthorne and I were always happy to speak at these meetings whenever Jack called. He was a true servant.