Billie Hart Foundation

PBJHS teams up with emerging Billie Hart Foundation ‚Äč
Posted on 11/15/2022
Joe Clark III, Abdul Rishard and Candace Warren.

Before Abdul Rishard entered Poplar Bluff Junior High School to forge a new partnership, he paused at the door, closed his eyes and took a breath.

He was channeling his late grandmother Billie Hart, whom he would have previously received encouragement from before stepping out of his comfort zone, he later revealed.

Rishard made his first donation to the PBJHS art department on Monday, Nov. 7, a small portion of the proceeds from fundraising under the emerging Billie Hart Foundation.

“We’re all one organization, striving together for the community, we just have different names,” Rishard stated. "My philosophy is to team up together to make Poplar Bluff a better town."

Rishard grew up in the South Side of Chicago until his grandmother, who raised him, moved the family to California, where he attended the Orange County School of the Arts as a sophomore. When Hart died in May, Rishard started the foundation in her name.

“I remember the day she passed, she said, ‘Let me go, and do good,’” Rishard recalled. He said Hart would do “whatever it takes to make people happy” regardless of her financial status. To fundraise for his organization, he is planning a series of events centered around the holidays.

The profits from the activities, he continued, will support other nonprofits in Poplar Bluff, such as the Child Concern Center or the Bread Shed, where he serves as volunteer chef during free community meals for those in need on Sundays at the North D Street location. Rishard is also employed at Dexter BBQ.

The Billie Hart Foundation has vowed to adopt Junior High to help meet outstanding needs and support programs that organizers feel may otherwise be overlooked. Junior High Principal Candace Warren said she would use the initial donation of $75 made on Monday, Nov. 7, toward replenishing art supplies for the second semester in instructor Amanda Ayers’ class.

The president of the board is Joe Clark III of the PBHS Class of 2022, who directed the foundation to the art department. The suggestion resonated with Rishard, who says the arts helped him discover where he fit in as a teenager. He also pledged to support the softball program, set to launch in the spring, after learning about the effort to provide the girls an opportunity to be more competitive beginning at an earlier age.

Inquiries to the Billie Hart Foundation may be made at [email protected]. The organization can also be located on Facebook, where Rishard plans to make announcements about upcoming fundraising events.

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Cutline: On behalf of the Billie Hart Foundation, (from left) Joe Clark III and Abdul Rishard recently present a donation to Junior High Principal Candace Warren.

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