The Richardsons pay it forward
Wes and Deana Richardson have been longtime supporters of SAIT. Visitors to the third floor of Heritage Hall pass through the Richardson Foyer named in honour of their support. Wes Richardson talked to us about what SAIT means to him and his family and why he and his wife have named SAIT in their wills.
Why does your family have such a strong connection to SAIT?
My father enrolled in the mechanic apprenticeship program when SAIT wasn't even SAIT yet. It was the beginning of his 40-plus year career in the automotive industry. When I graduated from high school I worked for a few years and eventually enrolled in SAIT's Business Administration program intending to get a job in the oil patch. I graduated in 1981 during the downturn. I finally began my intended career in 1985. My wife Deana graduated in Hotel and Restaurant Administration, now Hospitality Management, and worked in the field for a while. That career was short lived, but her skills lead to her long career with the Alberta government. My brother also attended SAIT studying Automotive Service Technology and then Electronics Engineering Technology. He moved to California where he has been in the electronics field for almost 30 years.
Why did you decide to establish the W & D Richardson student award?
We included SAIT in our estate planning and became members of the Heritage Hall Society.* We attended events such as the annual High Tea where we heard students say that, if they hadn't received a student award, they may have been forced to leave SAIT. That's heartbreaking. When an opportunity arose to donate some stocks to set up a student award, we couldn't think of a better choice. Our award assists one business or hospitality student each year. It is an honour to be able to do that.
Why have you also chosen to contribute to the I.G. Lewis Student Emergency Fund?
Many students don't qualify for awards or may face an unforeseen financial crisis. To have an emergency program in place to assist those students is brilliant. We decided to support this emergency fund because there's strength in numbers. By working together all our contributions can help students who need a leg up.
Why is giving to SAIT students so important to you and your family?
My wife and I have been able to live very fulfilling lives due to the career paths our SAIT education allowed us to follow. We want other SAIT grads to be able to follow their dreams, to get their chance at success, and we truly wish that at some point they too will be able to give back. I think there is a misconception that you need to be mega-rich to donate. We are certainly not multi-millionaires but over the years we contribute what we can to make a difference in the lives of students.
* People who commit to a legacy gift to SAIT are invited to join the Heritage Hall Society. Members receive invitations to events, presentations and celebrations. This is one way we honour those who have looked to the future and chosen to support SAIT students in their wills or estate plans. For more information on legacy giving, please email Anthony.Salekin@sait.ca or call 403.284.7046.