Meet Rich Olson
What follows is the transcript from a speech Rich Olson shared with us at the kick-off event for Clare Housing’s 30th year in 2017.
My name is Rich Olson, and today I’d like to tell you about someone very special to me, my late husband, Rob Rodgers. Rob and I were first introduced to Clare Housing back in 1993 when we were attending All God’s Children Metropolitan Community Church.
We heard about the house next door to the church, Agape Home, and how the people there provided hospice care mostly to men dying from AIDS-related complications. Our hearts were touched.
You see, Rob’s own brother died in San Francisco in 1986 as the result of complications of AIDS. Rob always wondered where his brother was living when he passed away. He always hoped he had a home, a safe place surrounded by comfort during his final days. But, Rob never knew.
At Agape Home, we knew people living with HIV/AIDS who did in fact have a home — the type of safe place Rob hoped his brother had. A home where you could live and die with dignity. Where you were cared for with love and compassion.
Rob and I started visiting the residents at Agape Home and baking cookies and treats for them. Whenever we stopped at the house, we were greeted with smiles and hugs. Rob had a big heart. He was always looking for ways to help others because he felt we had so much.
In November of 2013, Rob was diagnosed with cancer. Cancer took him from me in January of this year. But, it never took his spirit. Shortly before Rob passed, he was telling all his hospice caregivers about Clare Housing. About all the wonderful work they do. He even asked for some brochures to give to them. He wanted them to know that such a place existed, right here in Minneapolis.
It’s been 24 years since Rob and I first experienced Clare Housing. In memory of the wonderful man Rob was, and the love that we were blessed to share, I wanted to do something that would make him smile. Supporting Clare Housing was important to Rob. So, I made a matching gift in Rob’s memory in the amount of $30,000.
In the hope that this gift might inspire others, maybe even you, Rob’s and my gift to Clare Housing will serve as a matching incentive for the 30 Gifts campaign in this 30th anniversary year.
$30,000.00 for 30 great years! Let’s double it and keep Clare Housing going for another 30 years! We need to be in this fight together, until everybody living with HIV has a place to call home. Thank you.
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Thanks so much to Rich for this tremendous gift in Rob’s honor, and to the Otto Bremer Trust for their generous gift of $50,000. With this $80,000 in matching gifts, there has never been a better time to become a Journey Home Circle member by pledging to support Clare Housing at $1,000 a year or more for five years.
Would you like to join the Journey Home Circle and double the full 5 years of your pledge to Clare Housing? Please reach out to Jim Seas, our director of community engagement, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 612.236.9517.