I want to honor someone today. She most likely will be embarrassed. She prefers to work and serve and love quietly, humbly, and lovingly from the sidelines. Her fingerprints are all over Brenda’s and my life, and all over the past ten years of David’s Refuge.
Arne Duncan once wrote, “Wherever you find something extraordinary, you’ll find the fingerprints of a great teacher.” While I may be biased, it is my belief that David’s Refuge is extraordinary. Why? Because of people like Donna Richards. She was David’s Teacher of the Visually Impaired, but more so a teacher for everyone who calls David’s Refuge their family. For the past ten years, she has served on the Board of Directors.
Brenda and I honored Donna at the Taste of David’s Refuge two weeks ago. Here is what we shared.
Good evening everyone. For those who do not know us, we are Warren and Brenda Pfohl, the founders of David’s Refuge. Tonight it is our privilege to recognize a very special friend of ours and a champion of David’s Refuge, Donna Richards. Donna, would you please join us, and would all of you give Donna a David’s Refuge welcome.
Donna, as we look back over the past ten years, your fingerprints are everywhere, like the fingerprints left all over our windows when our grandchildren visit. You were one of the first people we called to ask if you would join our board of directors. We met you when David turned eight, in second grade. Mrs. Richards, teacher of the visually imparied, as we first knew you, introduced us to the world of large print books and braille.
You were a champion for us when we felt all alone, reminding us we were not alone. When we felt defeated or overwhelmed with David’s ongoing progressive losses, you reminded us of the incredible privilege of being David’s parents. Often you would share with us how David would tell you how much Jesus loved you, reminding us as well that He loved us. Little did you know, these three truths would become the cornerstone of what we have shared with every mom and dad we have served, telling them, they are not alone, what they do as the parents matters, and that God and their community loves them. You see, those are your fingerprints Mrs. Richards. And you are no longer simply the teacher of the visually imparied, but our friend.
You empowered us to be the best parents we could be, and you empowered David to do the impossible. You of course know by heart David’s saying, “I keep doing the things I can’t, that’s how I get to do them.” Thank you for making us believe in ourselves. And thank you for letting David do the things he couldn’t. Your fingerprints, your heart, your love for us made us keep doing the things we couldn’t, and that’s how David’s refuge started.
Donna will be stepping down from our board of directors next month. She has faithfully served on our eligibility team and has joined our newly created Programs and Outreach Committee. Just because she is rolling off as a board member, doesn’t mean she is stepping away from David’s Refuge Family.
I want to close with something you shared at David’s memorial service. You said, “I want David to know that years ago our roles reversed and he became my teacher and I have been listening and leaning into his presence ever since. Thank you David for my many many lessons.”
So tonight Donna, we want to thank you for the many lessons you have taught us, many of them covered with the fingerprints of David. Thank you Donna for leaving your fingerprints all over David’s Refuge! We love you.
If you know Donna, leave a comment, a thank you, or simply a “hey we love you!”