Richardson wins local Jefferson Award

Frankford’s own Josephine “Jo” Richardson was recently chosen as WBOC-TV’s 2010 Jefferson Award winner. The Jefferson Awards are a national recognition system honoring community and public service in America. Richardson will now represent the area at the national-level Jefferson Awards in June. Richardson and 15 other local Jefferson Award winners were honored last week in Salisbury, Md.

Coastal Point • Jesse Pryor: Jo Richardson, right, poses with Pre Ceptor Omega President Marge Orendorf after Richardson won WBOC’s Jefferson Award.Coastal Point • Jesse Pryor
Jo Richardson, right, poses with Pre Ceptor Omega President Marge Orendorf after Richardson won WBOC’s Jefferson Award.

Richardson, a sponsor of the Pre Ceptor Omega Chapter of Beta Sigma Phi for the past 11 years, was nominated by the service and social sorority for her commitment to volunteerism.

“Once we heard about the awards, we thought she would be an ideal candidate,” said this year’s Pre Ceptor Omega president, Marge Orendorf.

Richardson, 81, and a two-and-a-half-year breast cancer survivor who has overcome other health issues, said she feels better now that she did four years ago, even though her health never slowed her down.

“She has over a 40-mile route every other week for Meals on Wheels,” explained Orendorf, who noted that when Richardson couldn’t drive herself, “she would get Debbie or Carol [other sorority sisters] to drive her. She really gets the rest of us volunteering too.”

Richardson, who has flown for British Airways, been a stay-at-home mom, taught drama and was the director of a preschool, kindergarten and childcare center right before retiring, moved to the beach area with her husband, Tom, from Northern Virginia in 1989, because of her husband’s health. They both starting volunteering right away and enjoyed 10 years here together before Tom died in 1998.

In addition to Meals on Wheels, Richardson has been volunteering by taking food to Casa San Fransisco, an adult emergency shelter in Milton, for 20 years. She used to cook when they served meals on site and has taught English as a Second Language in years past, too. She also has kept alive her love of teaching by helping students with reading at Lord Baltimore Elementary for the past 20 years and collects gifts for poor seniors at Christmas.

As for the Jefferson Award, and the announcement that she is now a nominee for the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Award for Outstanding Public Service Benefiting the Local Community, Richardson said is grateful, but overwhelmed, and in a bit of a state of shock.

She added that, before the ceremony, she had been asked by her family if she had prepared a speech in case she was picked to go to on to Washington, D.C. “Of course not!” she said she had told them. “It never dawned on me.”

“I was completely stunned,” she said this week of the announcement and the media attention since. “It’s overwhelming. It’s not me. I did not expect it. I was overwhelmed by the other 15 people and their service. I am extremely humbled and totally undeserving … but I love what I do.”

Richardson will join nominees from around the country in Washington, D.C., in June for the national ceremony. Five of the national nominees will be selected as Onassis Award winners.

The Jefferson Awards began in 1972 as a way to create a Nobel Prize for public service. Today, their primary purpose is to serve as a “call to action for volunteers” in local communities.