The Tampa Bay Lightning honored Charley Richards as the 11th Lightning Community Hero of the year this afternoon at the Community Assisted & Supported Living Center, located in Sarasota. Richards, who received a $50,000 donation from the Lightning Foundation and the Lightning Community Heroes program, will donate the money to Community Affordable Supported Living.
Richards was the father of a developmentally-disabled son and knew first-hand the troubles they faced in regards to housing, support services and basic activities to live happy, productive lives. After his son and wife were both tragically killed in a car accident, he dedicated his life to create the opportunities for others that his son did not have. In his search for answers on how to cope with the loss of his son, he decided to create opportunities for other disabled persons that his son was not able to enjoy.
In 1997 he founded Community Affordable Supported Living, a non-profit that provides affordable housing for adults with disabilities. He initially was involved with purchasing, repairing and managing some of the 40 Tampa Bay area dwellings himself. Richards understood that more than half of disabled people's income was spent on housing, so he offered rent in his houses for only $300. Richards has made it his mission to supply independence for the less privileged segment of the population for 15 years.