Saturday, May 18, 2019

Honorable Mention In Dispatches

Honorable Mention In Dispatches - Featured Team Hope Volunteer of the Week = Richard Abbenbroek
Families of Hope Team
By: Susan Morrow, Team Coordinator

With immense gratitude and affection, I present Richard Abbenbroek as Team HOPE’s volunteer of the week. Since 2003, Richard has been an ardent and diligent member of the Team HOPE family, his “adopted” family as Richard lovingly describes us.

While I know many of us know Richard well, and, in fact, call him “Sir Richard,” there are a few wonderful and, perhaps, unknown tidbits that I would like to share about our delightful cousin from Canada. As we remember from going through Team HOPE training, we were asked to provide our fingerprints. Richard, shall we say, had a “concern” about being asked to give his fingerprints during his training in 2003 in Alexandria. The reason? He thought that somehow the FBI would learn as NCMEC checked his background that one of his ancestors assisted in burning the White House during the War of 1812 along with the pillaging and burning the city of Washington, DC with his fellow Canadians.

A historical note: the Americans and Canadians finally resolved their differences in 1814 with the signing of the Treaty of Ghent and they have been loyal friends since. Nevertheless, Richard wanted to become a Team HOPE volunteer so fervently that he worried about the direly past deeds of his relative. After giving fingerprints, while other Team HOPE volunteers to-be went to a local “hang-out,” Richard took a tour of Washington DC. When he was the Vietnam memorial, he became so overcome with emotion that he started to cry. A veteran who was there told Richard that “It’s OK, Brother, come with me.” The man took Richard to a group of other veterans who did not believe he had never been in Vietnam. Richard continually said that he was just an ex-Canadian Air Force person who had served only in Canada. The veterans thought Richard was just in denial and gave him a wooden nickel, which said “Welcome Home, Brother!”

Along with his commitment to Team HOPE, Richard volunteers his time and heart admirably to other organizations and human crises. To those in need of a supporting hand, Richard is there to help. For a number of years, Richard was a Volunteer Intake Worker with Child Find Alberta and supported parents of all missing children. This position ultimately paved the way for Richard to become part of Team HOPE. He has also reached out via his church. When Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast in 2005, he traveled with a church as part of Samaritans Purse Canada to Gulfport Biloxi, Mississippi and New Orleans Louisianna. For two weeks, Richard and his team cleaned more than 70 resident homes, salvaging personal and restoring the surroundings. On a mission trip to South Africa, Richard worked with his team on behalf of the Zulu people addressing their housing and general living needs. As Richard says, while his help and others are “drops in the bucket,” they are “planting seeds that can make a difference.”

Currently, it is Richard who is receiving OUR support and heart as he bravely battles cancer. He is so grateful for our caring and concern and we will always be there for him.

I am so fortunate and thankful to have Richard on our Families of HOPE team and a vibrant member of Team HOPE!


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