by Terry Rogers
Honored as the Greater Milford Boys & Girls Club Youth of the Year, Richardson recently competed in the State Youth of the Year competition. Part of the qualifying round required Richardson to write and deliver a speech as well as submit to an interview.
“I was nervous during the interview and I stumbled on my words,” Richardson said. “The speech went well and at least I know that I did my best.” Richardson, who is a senior at First State Military Academy in Smyrna, was proud to represent his club at the event.
Richardson grew up in Philadelphia, moving to Lincoln to live with his grandmother at a young age. He started going to the Boys & Girls Club for open gym and a staff member suggested he join the Friday night Teen Titans. He helped with a fundraising effort for the group and then joined the Keystones.
Preparing for the Youth of the Year nomination, which required him to write three essays, get letters of recommendation, provide a transcript and answer questions, Richardson still kept his 93 average in school and worked his two jobs, at Hardees and Redner’s in Milford.
“I want to go to college, to Goldey Beacom,” Richardson said. “I want to go into the hospitality industry. My father was a restaurant manager and he was able to talk to different people every day. I love to talk to people and I love to travel. I actually have considered working on cruise ships but am not sure I want to be out at sea for that long.”
Richardson feels that the Boys & Girls Club provides a friendly atmosphere and a safe environment. He explained that he has not always been the “best kid,” and was sent to SCOPE while he was in Middle School.
“I was constantly hearing that I was a bad kid,” Richardson said. “When I started coming here, I heard something different. Everyone here, all the staff, kept telling me I was not a bad kid, I was just making bad decisions. They explained that if I made better decisions, I would make out much better.”
Richardson, who spent several months in foster care in Wilmington before being taken in by his grandmother, says that talking about himself has always been difficult. It is his goal to help other children see their potential and he is working on a project that would help children that do not have basic things, like school supplies or support at home.
“I never wanted to tell my story, I never talked about myself or my problems,” Richardson said. “Then, people like Mr. John here at the Boys & Girls Club told me that this was my story, this was my life and that I needed to talk about it. They told me that it was causing me more problems by keeping it all inside me and that talking about it would help.”
Richardson said that he hopes his story will help other children and that he hopes that he can become a role model for kids who do not see a way out of a difficult situation. He recently had a friend who left military school and returned to Milford only to drop out. He was sorry that he was unable to convince his friend to remain in school because he knows life will be much more difficult for him than if he had stayed.
“I want them to know people believe in them because people believed in me,” Richardson said. “I don’t want them to let go of their dreams just because it gets hard. I want to inspire kids to be great. I want them to know they are more than the circumstances that surround them and that they do not have to be a product of their environment.”
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