REM Award Honorees (2001) — Linda Richards (REM)

Linda Richards is a REM dream. All that REM strives to be is summed up in her character and her actions. In all of her work she shows respect to others, welcomes the diversity of the community into her projects, and smiles in the face of adversity. Even the little headband that she wears symbolizes her nature . . . she sweats for this community!

Linda was not always so involved in volunteerism. She worked in retail in several different places, grew tired, and decided to take some time off. She says she became a serious couch potato for three years and then decided she wanted to do something but couldn’t find anything that inspired her. A friend introduced her to REM’s Dreamers’ Café and she started helping there, washing dishes and preparing food. Her involvement grew steadily. “I think I’ve found my niche . . . helping in the office, caring for the different functions that take place at The Center . . . it’s all very rewarding and I’m very happy,” Linda remarks.

Linda made an unbelievable commitment when Dreamers’ found itself in a financial crunch and could no longer afford paid staff. Linda took the project on, despite having had little cooking experience. She does it as a gift to the community. Through her efforts, Dreamers’ has been able to pay many of the back bills and the community project, Dreamers’ Café, has survived.

But Linda didn’t even stop there. She is on several REM teams and has joined REM’s Board. Linda refers to such behavior as expanding her horizons. “As I give, I learn,” she says.

One of four children, she was born in Waterville lived in Fairfield until her Dad bought a farm in Vassalboro. She lives in Vassalboro still with her husband Tom and two cats whom she refers to as her children. The two cats and many REMmers feel fortunate that Linda has not had children because many know Linda as Mom and have the good fortune to be “mothered” by her.

REM Executive Director Faye Nicholson says, “Linda is incredible. I know I don’t drink enough water . . . and Linda knew that too. So like magic, there’s always water on my desk. It’s so great to go to work each morning, stick my head inside Dreamers’ Café, inhale the smell of newly baked pumpkin muffins and say, ‘Good morning Mom,’ and collect my hug. Everyone should be so lucky as to have a Linda Richards to greet you and start your day!” Linda serves as an inspiration for all of REM.

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