A legacy of caring the most about those with the least
The Staples Family Fund at the Rhode Island Foundation provides annual distributions to two venerable Rhode Island nonprofits, the Rhode Island Community Food Bank and Crossroads Rhode Island.
“There were things that my parents were doing throughout my life that were guideposts for me. They made sure my brothers’ and my philosophical compasses were always pointed in the right direction. It was how they led their lives, believing that we’re not put on this earth to help ourselves, but to help others,” states Richard Staples, Jr.
Richard’s parents, Mary and the late Richard Staples, Sr., were community leaders on many levels, giving of their time, talent, and treasure to causes they cared about. Richard, Sr., a partner at Tillinghast, Collins & Graham and later Hinckley Allen & Snyder, served on the Barrington School Committee, Rhode Island Board of Education, and Rhode Island Board of Regents, and was also president of the Rhode Island Historical Society.
In 1986, they established the Staples Family Fund at the Rhode Island Foundation which today provides annual distributions to two venerable Rhode Island nonprofits, the Rhode Island Community Food Bank and Crossroads Rhode Island.
“We both were interested in the Food Bank,” Mary explains, recalling, “At the time, the Food Bank was in an old building (in West Warwick) and they didn’t have the refrigeration facilities they needed. But we saw how they were handling the distribution of food and the good work they were doing. Dick got very interested and started sending a letter to our friends about the Food Bank. People responded to it, and it got to be an annual thing for him. His letters brought in a lot of donations.”
She continues, “We watched the organization develop and grow through the years. Their Community Kitchen Job Training (for low-income or unemployed adults) is a wonderful program.”
The couple’s interest In Crossroads is a result, Mary says, of her late husband’s “general philosophy of life. He had strong feelings about helping the poor.”
The mission of Crossroads, “to help homeless or at-risk individuals and families secure stable homes,” also aligns with Richard, Jr.’s professional career. He worked for more than 40 years in the financial services and mortgage industries, including several years on the foreclosure prevention outreach team at Fannie Mae. He also served Housing Works RI both as an interim director and on its advisory board.
“Thanks to my career, I have an appreciation for the need for more housing, of the need to help folks who have come on hard times. And through my local work, I learned who many of the players are in Rhode Island,” Richard shares.
He notes that when he and his wife, Betsy, talked with their lawyer about making charitable gifts through their will, food and housing were needs they wanted to address. “We could have given bequests to the Food Bank and Crossroads, but fortunately there’s a fund at the Foundation – our family fund – that benefits these organizations. The fund gave Betsy and me the opportunity to give to two things that are of interest to us - a perfect match, thanks to Mom and Dad.
“Because the state is so small, when your money goes to the Rhode Island Foundation, you know that neighbors are being helped, that funds are benefitting people down the street, around the corner, or in a nearby town,” Richard says.
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