Spud Rick to retire as executive director of Habitat for Humanity

Roseleen ‘Spud’ Rick is retiring as executive director of Habitat for Humanity-Powhatan this month.

POWHATAN – Ask Roseleen “Spud” Rick what she has accomplished in the last two years serving as executive director of Habitat for Humanity – Powhatan and the responses always start with “we.”

“We” finished two houses and the families have moved in successfully.

“We” purchased two additional lots, one of which has already been cleared.

“We” opened the Habitat Store to take donations of usable items that can be sold and the profits used to help others.

“We” held two very successful annual fund drives, Valentine Galas, and golf tournaments.

“We” built up the critical repair program from helping with eight or nine repairs a year to serving 45 families since July 1, 2019, so they have more livable homes.

And she’s right – it has taken a village. Board members, donors, volunteers, and businesses all make up an integral part of making Habitat’s mission a reality, she said.

“We could not live without our volunteers; we couldn’t survive. We depend on the volunteers for staffing the store, for helping with critical repairs, for helping us build houses, for helping us with the golf tournament and the gala. We couldn’t do it,” Rick said.

But ask some of the people who have worked with Rick for the past two years what she has accomplished, and the list keeps growing.

Rick’s range of knowledge and her ability to work with all types of people has served Habitat so well, and her contributions will be sorely missed when she retires from the position this month, said Barbara Brown, store manager and board member. She is “unflappable” and always professional in her dealings with people.

“She gave the organization structure. She organized how we handle applicants. She made sure we were compliant with state, federal, and local laws and ordinances. She provided strategic planning sessions. She educated the board; she developed an orientation program for new board members. And she has mentored everyone,” Brown said.

Through Rick, Habitat has increased its grant funding, which has enabled the nonprofit to provide more support for critical repairs in the community, Brown added. Rick knows so many people in Powhatan and made great connections for Habitat to increase its resources.

“She was the perfect person at the perfect time. Having Spud was a perfect storm. We were able to really grow and improve our services to the community,” Brown said.

Besides getting Habitat organized and up to speed with its bookkeeping, record keeping and contact with the Powhatan Department of Social Services, Rick expanded the nonprofit’s footprint in the community, board president Terry Sanders said. She brought positivity and kindness to the role and helped in every area that Habitat touches, whether with the store, fundraisers such as the Valentine Gala and golf tournament, or the community partnerships, Sanders added.

One of Rick’s most lasting impacts will likely be expanding the critical repair program, Sanders said.

“I feel like we really have a superior critical repair program now and it is partly due to her efforts of working with the crew – the A Team we call them – and their respect for her and her approach to the homeowners when they call, how she embraces their need and tries to make a solution available to them,” Sanders said.

If a critical repair wasn’t in Habitat’s budget, Rick would reach out to the Powhatan Coalition of Churches or social services to try to find a solution, and she developed the quality relationships with those agencies needed to accomplish that, Sanders said.

Renee Van Natter, Powhatan Community Action coordinator, said Rick had a wonderful relationship with her program. Habitat and social services partnered to do critical home repairs for local residents.

“We have worked together since she started with Habitat, and not only is she an awesome lady to partner with in a business way, but she is a truly wonderful person. I know I will really miss her but have loved working with her these past few years. She will be missed and the next person will have big shoes to fill,” Van Natter said.

At 78, Rick said she is running out of energy and wants to step down to spend more time with her husband, John. But she has loved leading Habitat for Humanity- Powhatan for the last two years, calling it the best job she has ever had.

“It makes me feel like we have accomplished a lot. We have moved Habitat to the next level. It is a little more stable than it was. We have more community involvement than we’ve had before. It makes me feel really good,” Rick said.

Asked again to talk about HER accomplishments, Rick said she is most proud of the growth of the critical repair program. She saw it as a way of expanding Habitat’s presence and helping more of those in Powhatan who really needed the help.

“I think that we have enabled people in the county – particularly elderly – to continue to live in a house that is safe and sanitary. I feel good about that,” she said.

Laura McFarland may be reached at Lmcfarland@powhatantoday.com.

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