The pandemic and other similar disasters remind Richard VanDeWalle Jr of the difficulties that life often throws at us every day. He has stated that disasters are a “fact of life” and that it is crucial to expect them and plan for recovery efforts before they even occur. And he puts his money where his mouth is, as well, as he and his brother have helped many people over the years, including the time he was honored by President Bill Clinton for assisting after an earthquake.
Richard VanDeWalle Jr Remembers Being Honored as a Child for His Efforts
During the 1990s, Richard VanDeWalle Jr and his brother were young kids who already had a distinct sense of the importance of giving. During this time, a series of earthquakes rocked several hard-hit areas, causing devastating damage and millions of dollars of repair needs. This situation centered the whole world around this area, and many people gave what they could.
VanDeWalle will tell you that his parents instilled a sense of helping, contributing to the community, and reaching out to others that have always stayed with him.
However, VanDeWalle and his brother wanted to do what they could to help. Sick of hearing of disasters as if they were an “abstract number,” he decided it was time to do something to help. During this time, he and his brother collected as much money as they had and sent it off as a donation to those who were hit the hardest by the earthquake.
Now, Richard VanDeWalle Jr and his brother had not hoped to achieve any type of fame or win accolades for their donation. Instead, they just felt, altruistically, that it was essential to help those in the most need. And this impulse has remained faithful in their lives even now. VanDeWalle has donated money, time, and even blankets to local community efforts during his career in the lumberyard industry.
However, news of their donation quickly spread and became big news. More and more people started giving, creating an array of opportunities for young people like VanDeWalle and his brother. Their efforts eventually led to them being honored by then-president Bill Clinton. He has said that such an honor was “definitely cool” but that the biggest reward was knowing that he’d helped others.
Even now, Richard VanDeWalle Jr tries to work with young people in his area to teach them the importance of philanthropy and giving to others. He has noticed that such examples exceptionally inspire millennial individuals, and they often have huge hearts. Many strive to help those in their community and elsewhere in any way they can, giving time and money in the process.
And while it is nice to get acclaimed for such efforts, VanDeWalle always stresses that true philanthropy does not seek out attention or applause. Instead, people with a giving heart typically provide for those who need it just because it feels right. And that lesson is one that he’s held close to his early over the last 30 years or so.