Last month, one of our valued and deeply tenured teammates, Richard Williams, officially retired from Konbit Sante. Mr. Richard, as I fondly refer to him, shared his gift of finance and accounting with Konbit Sante for more than 10 years. He joined our team as the accountant and has worn many hats in the organization since then, as the office administrator, finance manager, and bookkeeper.
During my first year as Executive Director, he was instrumental in providing historical context, relevant organizational information, guidance on policies and procedures, and most importantly friendship. In my time working with him, I have grown to trust his advice. It is always genuine. We formed a close rapport in which we were able to engage in lively discussions, and occasionally we shared different viewpoints in a respectful (and often fun) manner. If there was ever a difference in approach, his comment would be, “We haven’t done that before but I have no objections with you trying it out.”
I call those statements Richardisms and there are many of them. They are funny, light-hearted, and can add a smile to anyone’s face. Since his retirement, I have started to appreciate those Richardisms even more. One of my favorites is, “I was born at night but not last night.” Another one that he loved using was, “Time flies when you’re having fun.” Mr. Richard used the latter when we were working in the office and didn’t have much time to chit chat because we were both so busy with various tasks throughout the day.
Coming from the south and having grown up in an immigrant household, I had a hard time adjusting to his request for me to call him by his first name. As far as I was concerned, he deserved my respect by addressing him as Mr. Williams. Therefore, very early on in our working relationship, we determined that he would have to be comfortable with being called Mr. Richard. Even then, whenever I’d say, “Yes sir or No sir,” his automated response was, “No, I was enlisted.”
Mr. Richard, a person of habit, was punctual as he would always come to the office 4 days a week from 7:30am to 3:00pm. Days when I worked remotely, through this pandemic, I knew if I called at 7:31am I would reach him. He was always ready with answers and information, whether it was in relation to our work or to obtain advice about something broader involving the organization. I knew I could always count on him.
Throughout his time at Konbit Sante, not only did he manage our finances and accounts closely, he was also in charge of reconciling the expenses from our Haiti office and the US office. He made sure that our budget was on track and always worked closely with the finance team in Haiti. He managed all the audits, in terms of ensuring deadlines were met, paperwork was submitted, and follow-ups were done. With his eyes on our finances, we knew, without a shadow of a doubt, that the organization was secure.
He leaves Konbit Sante’s role as the accountant, but lucky for us, he will remain a part of the organization as a volunteer, a member of our Finance committee, and as an expert consultant to our new accountant, Sam Purinton. Sam joined our team four months ago and comes with an educational background in economics and service in the Peace Corps. We are grateful to have found him, and though we miss Mr. Richard and his Richardisms in the office, we are extremely happy to have Sam join the Konbit Sante family.
Please join me in bidding Mr. Richard farewell, with deep gratitude on behalf of the entire Konbit Sante community. I can unequivocally say that anyone who has interacted with him has had a pleasant experience and that he will be truly missed. He has left behind an enduring mark on Konbit Sante and one that will always be cherished.