By: Cam Low
We are so excited to introduce our latest Volunteer of the Month; Rick N. Rick is one of our newest Fix-It volunteers and has already made a huge impact with his dedication and excellent service.
Rick grew up in a northern suburb of Chicago called Northbrook and is the oldest of three. He was lucky enough to have one set of grandparents close by, just a town away, and an aunt, uncle, and five cousins he saw every other weekend at his great-grandmother’s who made dinner for all of them every other week as they were growing up. The families, including Rick, would take care of her yard and do other chores, which helped her stay in her house longer (a precursor to Cultivate). Rick thinks he got the start of his mechanical background from his father, who was very handy and built their first home there. Growing up in a close-knit family and treating others the way he would want to be treated.
His first job was to cut grass at age 12 for $2 per lawn, and he was able to buy his first lawn mower at 13. Funny story: After a few years of cutting an older woman’s grass, she asked him if he wanted her to start paying him $3 instead of $2. He said no, $2 was fine, and admits he’s not sure if he would have changed his mind knowing what he knows now. But Rick does not regret his decision in the least. He maintained several yards along with one small commercial property until he was 16. He then worked in every department at the local grocery store for a couple of years.
After graduation from high school, he started off for college in architecture but got mononucleosis and had to quit. He moved with his family to Miami shortly afterward and went into construction. Rick went to night school to get his aircraft mechanics license (because he did not want to work outdoors all of his life). He worked for American Airlines for a short period before a major layoff. Waiting for the American job to open back up, he found an interim job working on the final assembly line of reproduction 1930s Auburn Speedsters. Eventually, after the Air Traffic Controllers strike, he made his career as an Air Traffic Controller, which he found was a great fit, and he loved his career there.
Rick’s proudest moment was being in the delivery room and watching the birth of his first child, Sara, who is now a CRNA (Certified Nurse Anesthetist). Rick is also extremely proud of her and how far she has come. He says you always want your kids to do better than you, and he can honestly say she has. Rick has a total of eight children and nine grandchildren, whom he says are ALL GREAT!
Rick claims that his biggest challenge all of his life, up until the last 5 years or so, is patience. He admits that he has mellowed out a lot since retiring; he is still not great at it, but a ton better. He says his wonderful wife, Tina, has taught him the most patience. She inspires him because she is extremely understanding and patient. Rick has a large family, so he doesn’t have much idle time. He loves Longmont (though it is growing faster than he would wish) and Colorado.
Rick is such an excellent Fix-It volunteer, in part because he is passionate about having everything working as it should - running well and looking good. He says that some of that is a spillover from being an Aircraft Mechanic and Air Traffic Controller for so many years. He is a stickler for detail and likes it when everything works correctly. He leaves no Band-Aids and no room for error. He admits he is a perfectionist, over-builds everything, and almost never (except on rare occasions as necessary) does anything other than a quality job. It just isn’t in his genes to do anything else.
A perfect day for Rick would be relaxing on the beach with his lovely wife of almost 24 years and finishing it off with a wonderful meal. Rick loves food, cooking, and woodworking. He redid their kitchen and built many of his kitchen cabinets from scratch out of plywood and rough-cut lumber. He also designed and built their dining room table, which he’s quite proud of and thinks that it’s almost a work of art. Rick has also traveled a lot and has been to every state in the United States except Alaska.
The advice Rick has for others is to take a moment to look around and enjoy what is in front of you. Most everyone, including himself, is always in a hurry. Therefore, he has started to spend more time just sitting outside, enjoying life and the world around him. He hopes to leave of a legacy of being kind, helpful, and a good father.
Although Rick has only been volunteering with Cultivate for a few months, he has been volunteering in other areas: serving on the board of directors for his homeowner's association for about 15 years and being President for more than half of those. But he wanted to do more and, thankfully, Katt M. at Village Place in Longmont pointed Rick in our direction, so he joined the Cultivate family. He has met so many interesting people working with Cultivate. Most are extremely thankful for Cultivate and what the volunteers provide them. Rick is thankful he is so blessed to be still living, in good health, and able to give back to such a wonderful community. He feels extremely honored to be the recipient of this recognition so early in his volunteering.
Thank you, Rick, for sharing your skills and eye for perfection with Cultivate clients through your excellent work in our Fix-It program!
About Cam Low:
Cam Low, a Boulder Native, enjoys the outdoors, practicing yoga, listening to live music, and spending time with her friends and family. As an avid Buffs fan, she is a devoted volunteer with the CU Boulder Alumni Chapter and Buffs4Life as well as an Ambassador for the Boulder Chamber. She joined the Cultivate family in March 2020 as a Business Development and Program Specialist. Cam is passionate about helping seniors and eager to introduce Cultivate clients to other people within the Cultivate Community, further encouraging the connection and relationship between clients, volunteers, donors, and staff.
Our dedicated volunteers are crucial to the Cultivate family and living our mission of helping seniors flourish through active engagement with their community. Each month we will feature their stories in Volunteer of the Month. If you are interested or want to nominate someone else, please contact Cam Low at email@example.com
Help seniors flourish by reconnecting them—as recipients and contributors—with their surrounding communities.