Before Richard was born, his mother had to flee for her life. Her partner was on drugs and threatening to kill her and her baby.
Richard is now a senior at Upper Columbia Academy in Spangle, Washington. He has never met his biological father. “It’s always been just me and mom,” he says.
Schoolwork has always been difficult for Richard. When he failed third grade, his mother began teaching him at home. Eventually Richard was diagnosed with dyslexia and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. The diagnoses helped Richard and his mother understand why he couldn’t focus, why he couldn’t follow directions and why he couldn’t read — because to a person with dyslexia, letters seem to jump around on the page.
For five years, Richard’s mother patiently home-schooled her son, pulling in tutors who were skilled at helping children with dyslexia and ADHD learn. It was not easy — she was a single parent and needed to work. Fortunately Richard’s grandparents were close by and were able to help some with Richard’s care.
During his early years Richard often went to church on both Saturday and Sunday — on Sabbath with his grandparents and on Sunday with his mom. When Richard was 12 they moved to Colorado, and both Richard and his mom joined the Adventist church.
Richard started high school at Campion Academy — an eight-hour drive from home. Before long Richard and his mom began exploring other high school options. Richard was already thinking ahead about college, and his eye was on Walla Walla University’s engineering program.
So following his freshman year, they moved to Washington. His mother got a job on the north side of Spokane, and Richard enrolled at UCA, less than an hour away.
That first summer Richard got a job working in the maintenance department at Camp MiVoden. The next summer he was back working as a counselor, and this past summer Richard was MiVoden’s challenge course instructor. “I never see a dollar from my summer’s work,” Richard says. “It all goes toward my UCA school bill, but I’m good with that. I’m just very grateful to be at UCA.”
Richard’s most impactful moment at UCA was last year when he was chosen to be a week of prayer speaker. He says, “I didn’t want to be a fake and get up and talk to my fellow students about something that wasn’t real. But I didn’t have it together. I didn’t have a strong devotional life. I wanted it, but I didn’t have it. I begged God to come into my heart and change me, to give me a strong faith and to help me be consistent in my relationship with Him. God answered my prayer. I now sense His presence. I know that He is working in my life, and I am confident that He has a plan for my life.”
Richard is a highly motivated young man. He says, “I’ve learned that the only way to grow is throught discomfort. So I intentionally live outside of my comfort zone. This year I am the Associated Student Body vice president and the assistant head RA [resident assistant] in the dorm. I’m taking two dual-credit classes: government and English. I’m also taking AP calculus and am a member of the National Honor Society. Schoolwork is still hard for me. I have to strictly limit my extracurricular activities in order to manage all of this.”
Despite his very busy schedule, Richard was willing to take the time to interview with FoundationONE. “The reason I’m making it a priority,” he says, “is because I am clear about my purpose. I am on this earth to help others. I know that sharing my story will generate income and make it possible for other kids to enroll at UCA. So, this is something I really want to do.”
Richard exudes peace and radiates joy. To meet him, you’d never know how he has struggled or how he puts himself under pressure to assure continuous growth. He is articulate, self-aware and openhearted.
FoundationONE has, for the past three years, supported Richard by awarding him grants and scholarships. “It is an honor to be a part of Richard’s life-transformation process,” says Mindy Weber, FoundationONE president.
Richard says, “My mother and I have been broke our whole life. FoundationONE has given me hope and provided me with a pathway to success. I’m considering becoming an engineer, but regardless of my future career I’m looking forward to joining the FoundationONE team as a donor. I want to offer hope to others, just like FoundationONE has offered hope to me.”
For more information about FoundationONE, the lay-led organization raising an endowment for scholarships for Upper Columbia Academy students, go to www.foundationoneuca.org.