Habitat awards first memorial scholarship
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Wednesday, Dec. 07, 2011

Habitat awards first memorial scholarship

Former program director provides inspiration for honor in her name

Family, friends and co-workers said the late Dana Conner Richardson was deeply committed to the principles of Habitat for Humanity and the elimination of poverty in Cabarrus County.

The former program director for Habitat for Humanity Cabarrus County died of cancer June 26, 2010, three days after her 42nd birthday. The first in her family to graduate from college, she also advocated getting an education beyond high school.

That's why her husband, Brent Richardson, partnered with Habitat Cabarrus to create the Dana Conner Richardson Memorial Scholarship.

"It'll help give someone an opportunity to enhance their own position in life so they might be able to help others," said Richardson. "It will help someone persue an education so they can better themselves and, eventually, their community."

The scholarship also will serve as Dana's lasting legacy to the community.

"It allows her to give back even after her death, perpetuating a scenario of giving back," said Richardson.

Dana was involved with Habitat Cabarrus for more than 10 years in various capacities, including volunteer, board member, board president and staff member.

"She was committed to Habitat and the approach the organization takes to trying to eliminate poverty housing," said Dave Zablotny, executive director of Habitat Cabarrus. "She also was a strong believer in higher education and community service."

Jacquesea Williamson, a 2011 graduate of A.L. Brown High School in Kannapolis, recently became the scholarship's first recipient. Her parents, Kenya and Tony Jordan, live in a Habitat home in Concord.

"The recipient has overcome obstacles in her life and is pursuing her studies at UNC Chapel Hill," said Zablotny. "She hopes one day to become a pediatrician. She was heavily involved in community service while in high school."

Williams received a $500 check Nov. 23 at Habitat Cabarrus offices in downtown Concord. She said the money will help purchase textbooks. She is studying biology and psychology at UNC.

"The fact she stressed she wanted to further her education so she could give back, I think that's really in keeping with my wife's thoughts," said Richardson.

The memorial scholarship will be awarded annually to immediate family members of Habitat Cabarrus partner families.

Williams said winning the scholarship has made her want succeed even more.

"I was actually in the cafeteria with friends when I found out I won," she said. "I jumped up out of my seat, and I frightened them a bit, but I was so excited and I felt so honored that the family saw me fit to receive the scholarship.

"Seeing how Dana Richardson was such a great person, I felt like they saw some of her qualities in me."

But it does come with a little extra pressure.

"I have to make sure ... the Richardsons' efforts to help me aren't in vain," Williams said. "I want them to be proud of my accomplishments and feel they played a role in helping me. My family has a Habitat house, and my mother used to talk about how sweet and kind Mrs. Richardson was during the process of building our home."

Details: www.habitatcabarrus.org or 704-786-4001.

Johnson: 704-786-2185

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