His name is Richard Hassell. Though most people have never heard of him, the whole world needs to hear about him ... and his story.
He was a world-class mountain climber who appeared in several classic Hollywood movies including Gone With The Wind, The Ten Commandments and Showboat. He worked side by side with the likes of Gary Cooper and John Wayne, was one of President Bush’s Thousand Points of Light and in 1989 was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.
His story was featured on NBC’s Nightly News. The Virginia General Assembly recognized him and, in 1999, the Norfolk City Council named a street in his honor.
He received several awards for his contributions to the Tidewater communities of Virginia. In 1991, the Urban League of Hampton Roads honored him with the prestigious “Vivian Carter Mason Meritorious Award.” However, he failed to pick up the award. Instead, on his way to the banquet, he stopped to help victims of a house fire.
Richard’s mother, Sophie, ran a soup kitchen during the Great Depression. Granting her dying request to carry on her work, her son, a modern-day good Samaritan, left the glitz of Hollywood to minister to the poor. He chose the basement, not the bay windows of life. He cared for the elderly, fed the hungry and cried with the lonely.
He based all his work from his modest apartment, traveled from need to need in a donated van and funded his ministry with social security checks.
He chose the basement, not the bay windows of life.
Richard died in 2000 at the age of 84. His friends established the Richard Hassell Foundation in his honor, hoping to raise enough money to open a restaurant in his name teaching teenagers business and cooking skills. Those plans proved too grand without the tireless leadership of Richard Hassell.
A friend of Richard’s, a local TV reporter named Joe Flannagan, was initially asked to head the foundation. Through the Virginia Beach Foundation, Flannagan and others raised money to carry on the causes Richard cared about. Every Thanksgiving and Christmas, the foundation continued Richard’s tradition of feeding the needy providing meal baskets distributed with the help of Hassell’s own daughter and son-in law.
What a legacy! All because Richard Hassell decided to give.
Until you and I give … nothing happens. But when we do …
“One gives freely, yet grows all the richer; another withholds what he should give, and only suffers want. Whoever brings blessing will be enriched, and one who waters will himself be watered” (Proverbs 11:24-25).
© 2017. Barry L. Cameron
Barry L. Cameron has been the Senior Pastor of Crossroads since 1992 when the church was averaging 188 in morning worship. Pastor Cameron and his wife, Janis, have three children and two grandsons. He’s the author of the bestseller: The ABCs of Financial Freedom, Contagious Generosity, and The Financial Freedom Workbook. The Cameron family has been completely debt free since November 2001.