DANVILLE – When Deputy Director Bob Richard started with the Danville Police Department 36 years ago as a cadet, he had no idea what he would do when he retired.
Since 1989, Richard has been an instrumental part of the charitable success of the local AMBUCS service club, where he found a second calling for community service. That calling has led him to his post-retirement plans.
"It's funny the roads you take," Richard said. "I think AMBUCS really did get me started down the road of community service outside my job."
And to his new job: executive director of the Danville Public Schools Foundation, which seeks to raise private funds to support new and creative educational programs in the Danville public schools beyond those supported by tax dollars.
The same year that Richard joined AMBUCS, a club dedicated to achieving independence for people with disabilities, community leaders formed the schools foundation, a nonprofit, tax-exempt corporation governed by a board of private citizens. The foundation operates independently of the Danville school district's administration.
The foundation has supported a variety of fine arts programming at all age levels of the school district and many other initiatives, including a poetry performance at the high school, a mock United Nations conference, after school programming at East Park Elementary School and the purchase of violins for Cannon Elementary School and keyboards for Liberty Elementary School.
At one time the foundation supported an executive director's position, but in recent years the all-volunteer board has led the organization, raising funds, overseeing the funds and determining how the money will be spent.
But the current board has decided to take the organization in a new direction and again support an executive director's position. Richard's last day with the city will be June 1. He will start at the foundation the next day.
Board President Charles Hall said the board is excited to have an executive director again.
"We think that it's going to really help us expand and develop the foundation. Consequently, we will be able to do many more things for the students in District 118," Hall said. "It will be a benefit to the faculty and administrators. And all the board members are excited about what it may mean for our entire community."
Richard is excited, too, about his new mission and about the enthusiasm of those on the foundation board.
"It's infectious," he said of their enthusiasm. "I feel very fortunate to be a part of that organization now."
Richard lives in Danville with his wife, Kathy, and they have an adult son, Adam Richard, who is a Danville High School graduate.
Bob Richard graduated from Danville High in 1972 and became a cadet with the police department in 1973. He graduated from Danville Area Community College and Eastern Illinois University and became a full-time officer with the police department in 1976.
Richard will direct all fundraising efforts of the foundation, including major, individual, alumni and corporate gifts and the solicitation of bequests. He will also manage special events and develop and direct grant-writing efforts.
Hall said Richard brings a great deal of experience in funding development and event planning through his work with the AMBUCS Playground projects and his other volunteer activities. Richard was one of the chairpersons in all three campaigns to raise funds for and construct the AMBUCS Playground for Everyone, the Independence Playground and the AMBUCS Sprayground for Everyone.
Richard said before getting involved in the playground projects, he was not comfortable with fundraising.
"Truthfully, I didn't like it at first, and I was very intimidated by that. I'm not any more. It's more than just asking for money. You have to ask, but it's not asking for money, it's asking people to help the cause you believe in, and people are just unbelievably generous in this area," Richard said. "Raising money can be a lot of fun, and people like to give to projects like that. I hope to raise a lot of money and have a lot of fun with it, doing some very serious projects."
Danville Mayor Scott Eisenhauer said he greatly appreciates the number of years and dedicated service that Richard has put into law enforcement for the city of Danville.
"He truly is an individual who started at the bottom in the cadet program and worked his way up, filling each of the different tasks along the way from patrol to investigations to being a member of or leading some of the special units, and that's what made him a natural for deputy director over patrol," he said.
Eisenhauer said Richard's deputy-director position would not be filled, but there would be some reorganization within the department to cover his responsibilities. Eisenhauer said he has stated publicly in the past that if either of the police department's deputy directors, the other being Deputy Director Doug Miller, were to retire, the position would not be filled.
"I respect Bob and certainly respect the decision he has made and wish him the best of luck in his new endeavors, but I especially thank him for the service and commitment he has made to the city of Danville," Eisenhauer said.