Anyone privileged to cross the path of Rich DeVos most likely left the encounter feeling uplifted, inspired, or highly motivated. Rich DeVos was the consummate cheerleader and never missed an opportunity to affirm the lives he touched. In his own words, “I’ve tried all my life to inspire others to use their talents and fulfill their potential.”
Mr. DeVos’ perpetual encouragement grew out of his faith in Jesus Christ. Rich, and his late wife, Helen, deeply rooted in faith, believed in the unlimited potential of all people. Their family had a passion for leadership development and a firm conviction for effective leadership, particularly in the church. Together, these deeply held values guided their family’s philanthropy and became the foundation for the DeVos Urban Leadership Initiative.
When DVULI was just an idea, Mr. DeVos’ primary mandate was to, “make the participants feel special.” This directive is what has set the Initiative apart from most leadership training investments in urban America.
“The DeVos’ really created an environment where different people can come together and give their best and be respected for their best and create something that they couldn’t have created alone,” said Ginny Vander Hart, Executive Director of the DeVos’ family foundations. “There are so many ways that the deep values of this program reflect who the DeVos’ are.”
In one of his many inspiring moments, Mr. DeVos said, “It always comes back to individuals are created by God, and they have worth. You’re not just a glob. Each one of you has a mind God gave you, each one of you can think, each one of you can make decisions. And as you make those decisions, be mindful of the fact that God’s hand is on you and therefore you do the best you can, always.”
While the DeVos Urban Leadership Initiative staff continue to mourn the loss of Rich DeVos, we remain committed to its goal of investing in the lives of urban youth workers who demonstrate success in working with youth in communities of high poverty and unemployment, and who are positioned for growth and change in their leadership. We will continue to carry Mr. DeVos’ legacy of encouragement and help urban youth workers and DVULI alumni to flourish in their calling.
“You only have a span of time in which to live your life, to honor God, and to glorify him, so you’ve got to use your time well. As long as you know Jesus, you can live in peace and joy. And that’s what we do, and that’s what we want for you.” – Rich DeVos
More information about his life can be found at the official Richard DeVos tribute website, richdevos.com