About a decade ago, one of chiropractor Dr. Richard Cheung’s patients talked to him about a nonprofit he was involved in. Richard was interested in this nonprofit, particularly in its Bad Weather Shelter program, which was hosted by a church very close to his practice. So his patient invited him along on one of the nights it was operational.
Richard says he was put to work immediately – setting up cots, organizing bags of client belongings, and cooking dinner. He says he was “moved and touched” by the clients he met that night. So much so, that he met with the then executive director of Friends In Deed, Pat O’Reilly, only a week later and offered his services.
Richard then chaired a very successful fundraiser, and then another the following year. He was then invited to serve on the Friends In Deed board, and was able to give them the benefit of his experience as a nonprofit board member – much needed at the time, as the organization was facing a difficult financial situation. It is in no small part due to Richard’s leadership that Friends In Deed came through its financial difficulties and went on to grow to many times its previous size to become the organization we see today!
At that time, most of the board members were White, male clergy. As an Asian layman, Richard brought some much-needed diversity. We are fortunate that many other community members have stepped up since then to make our leadership more representative still. Richard also brought FID to the notice of Pasadena’s business community, again to positive effect.
But the Bad Weather Shelter has always been the FID program closest to Richard’s heart. He has taken an active role in decision making about the running of the shelter, and has taken cooking lessons from FID’s William Shelby (at that time the BWS director), learning the skill of making tuna casserole for 70 guests on a shoestring budget!
The last season we were able to run the shelter, before COVID, Richard managed to visit the shelter every night it was open. He says that allowed him to foster relationships of genuine friendship and trust with some of our clients. He has genuinely missed this connection over the last few years and can’t wait to find it again as we reopen.