February 11, 2014

Meet Gene Richards – Heart of the Community Award Winner!

Posted in 50 Joy Drive, Awards, Board of Trustees Spotlight, Volunteer Spotlight tagged , , , , , at 8:28 am by Lund

Gene Richards is a landlord managing over 250 rental properties in Burlington and Florida, Director of Aviation at Burlington International Airport, CEO and founder of Spruce Mortgage, a father, a husband, and the person that many Burlington non-profit organizations call when they need advice or need to get things done. “Initiative is Gene’s  middle name! All we do is tell him what we need or the difficulty we are facing and he takes it from there!   He is our go to guy and problem solver.  If we have a need we can’t meet, we call Gene and he makes it happen,” says Barbara Rachelson, Executive Director at Lund.

Gene Richards was nicknamed "Eugenius" by a friend who the then recruited to volunteer at Lund, of course.

Gene Richards was nicknamed “Eugenius” by a friend who he then recruited to volunteer at Lund, of course.

Gene met Barbara when he was working on her house (oh, did we not mention that he is also a contractor?) and he soon came to visit Lund’s old building at Glen Road.  He was not impressed by what he saw and thought that the clients deserved better than the somewhat run down conditions. He joined the Buildings and Grounds committee and got to work.  It didn’t stop there and Gene has served on many committees at Lund and was jointly responsible for creating Lund’s most successful fundraiser to that point – a gala evening for 450 guests. 

Gene’s enthusiasm and energy for Lund is infectious.  He has recruited many other volunteers to help with all sorts of projects, including his own family.  Gene’s wife Julie has been the official photographer at many Lund events including the adoption picnic and the Ride for Children.  His sons, Stephen and Eugene have also been involved with collection drives and direct mail initiatives.  

It is unclear how Gene is able to be so dedicated to his family and friends, manage all the work that he does for different non-profits, run the airport (have you seen the recent expansions, focus on local businesses and innovative features there?) and his other business interests and still have time to sleep at night.  He is also the middle of the six degrees of separation for Burlington, in fact he reduces it to about one degree!  If you don’t know Gene, you know someone he knows or you know an organization that he helped to make strong.  He probably built the house that you live in and your boss in his brother-in-law.  There aren’t enough hours in the day for this to add up but however he does it, we’re so thankful that he does.  

“Gene is one of those amazing can do people.  He is eternally optimistic, has boundless energy and ideas and thinks big and creatively.   He is a fundraising force not to reckon with and has the biggest heart I know,” says Barbara.   Everyone at Lund is proud and delighted to be honoring Gene with a Heart of the Community Award this year.


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