Guest Post by Richard Collins II
On May 20, 2017, a local tragedy occurred when 2nd Lieutenant Richard W. Collins III was fatally stabbed in an apparent hate crime three days before he was set to graduate from Bowie State University. We are honored to share this post from his parents, Richard and Dawn Collins, who have decided to pay tribute to their son’s legacy through a memorial fund at The Community Foundation.
We first learned of the Greater Washington Community Foundation through a long-time family friend who happens to be an attorney. Following the tragic death of our son, my wife and I contacted the foundation to discuss establishing a foundation to continue his legacy and build a lasting tribute to honor our son’s memory.
Our vision for creating our foundation was two-fold. First, we believe that it is important for us to make sure that our son’s life is given purpose even though he can no longer be present with us physically. While the pain of no longer being able to speak with him or hear his voice is at times overwhelming, the work involved in continuing his legacy through our foundation provides us with some measure of comfort.
Secondly, we intend to use our foundation as a vehicle of change through which private citizens are educated of their civic empowerment under the law in the communities where they live. It is intended to raise individual awareness of the civic duty of all of us to acquire and act upon the knowledge of the law regarding individual rights and protections. In addition, we must hold our elected officials and civic institutions accountable to ensure that the law protect, respect, and value the right to life of all citizens.
We partnered with The Community Foundation when we realized we did not know anything about starting a foundation on our own. We concluded we’d be able to get up and running faster if we used the experience of an established organization.
We officially launched our foundation four days prior to our son’s 25th birthday on December 12, 2018. Although taking this step provided us with a sense of accomplishment, it was also a bittersweet reminder of the reason that we found ourselves on this path in life.
As the date marking the second anniversary of our son’s murder approaches, we still struggle to understand why God chose our family to experience this horrific ordeal. It is a date that for us marks the month of May with dread rather than the anticipation that normally accompanies the spring season. It is our hope and prayer that at some point, our heartbreak will transform itself into a state of consciousness that provides us with a sense of peace. We feel it is our purpose to stay connected with our son by turning sorrow into an opportunity to bless the lives of others. Our goal is to use the platform we have been placed on to bring attention to the need for confronting the challenge represented by hate and bias violence and to help provide education opportunities through our foundation. We believe our foundation provides us the best avenue to have a positive impact in the lives of people and in their communities.