When you first walk into the cozy red-brick heritage building where CODE has its offices, you will most likely be greeted with a warm hello and the welcoming smile of Edie Richard. To many, she’s considered the heart and soul of CODE. She’s been at the organization longer than any other employee – 17 years to be exact –starting out as a receptionist in the summer of 1999. At the time, her sister-in-law was working at CODE in its Project Love school engagement program and had told Edie about the temporary, one-month-replacement contract.
Funny twist: In fact, as they were pulling up to the building on Edie’s first day of work, her sister-in-law remarked to Edie that CODE had actually been founded by Edie’s’ great uncle, Dr. Roby Kidd along with two other gentlemen.
It wasn’t long before the finance department recognized Edie’s talent for numbers and she soon found herself working as a book-keeper in that department – a role which has evolved over the years. CODE staff also realized what a genuinely caring person Edie was and what an asset her cheery, optimistic personality was to the organization. She cares greatly about those around her and about the work they are doing to give children in the world’s most vulnerable places, a chance to learn how to read and write.
Edie has lived her own personal literacy journey. As a young child, she had difficulty decoding words and found reading and writing a challenge until she finally got the support she needed from teachers and family members. She read her first entire book, cover to cover, with a bit of help from her sister, in grade 8. The story was about a young Caribbean girl who loses her parents and is forced to go to Puritanical New England where she is teased and demonized because she is different. Edie connected with that book because she saw herself in the “different” young girl: “After reading that book, I knew I was able to read on my own and I was free”.
Later, at 16, Edie would discover her favourite book of all time – the King James Bible. To her, it was not only a great literary work but also a deeply life-changing book -- one that would shape her values and beliefs as a young adult and keep her anchored now, as a cherished mother and grandmother.
In speaking with Edie, her faith in CODE and its people is unwavering…
“If you choose to work at an NGO, your heart really has to be in it. Every single person who works here has their heart 100% in what we do.”
“Once I could read, I was free.”
– Edie Richard