Picture a portrait of a beautiful life and Dick Maw’s life would come pretty close. He spent 53 years working in the insurance business – 33 of which he owned his own agency – has traveled and possesses a profound love for people.
He met his wife Paula as an undergrad at University of California Santa Barbara. They have lived in Los Angeles, San Bernardino, Hartford, Ct., San Diego and East Sacramento and have three daughters named Beth, Jennifer and Barbara.
Jennifer is adopted and Barbara is a neighbor who babysat for Beth and Jennifer. Dick and Paula took her in when her relationship with her Aunt and Uncle became fraught.
“She was going to be sent to a foster agency rather than staying with her aunt and uncle,” Dick said. “After some big soul searching Paula and I decided to have her come live with us and she did.”
“It’s interesting to take on a teenager,” Dick said. “She was fourteen, but we wouldn’t change our decision for the world.”
When Dick started his own insurance agency, Paula worked as his office manager for five years.
“After two years as an independent business person, I was making more income than I ever did as a corporate citizen and that was starting from zero because as a company employee you have no clients,” Dick said.
“I had a plan,” Dick said. “I had an agreement with myself that I would talk with at least 30 business owners a day – put my face in front of them and hand them a business card and I did that every day. After a while, they began calling me back.”
Dick’s business partner, Mike, was a former client. He came to the agency and told Dick that he had lost his job and Dick hired him as a sales associate even though he had no experience in the insurance industry. Now, Mike is the sole owner of the business.
“Mike came into the business knowing nothing about insurance and became a very accomplished guy,” Dick said.
“We shared attitudes and ethics about our service and being honest with people.” Dick said.
Dick has been tutoring kids and adults in the community for the past 23 years and volunteering at Wellspring for the past eight years.
His heart is unlocked and open said Genelle, Wellspring’s social worker.
“I think people are the most interesting thing that I cross paths with,” Dick said.
Dick teared up when describing his life and the moments that mattered to him — moments of connection and times when the truism an old dog can’t learn new tricks became a resounding fib.
“You are never too old to learn,” he said.
He currently tutors a seventy year old woman who pushed her children and grandchildren to graduate high school, but never received her GED herself.
What has Dick learned as he has moved through life?
“I think if you work hard and use the ability you have, you can find success,” he said. “I also think that it is really important to give back.”
“I had a career that I can, without reservation, say was 33 years of doing what I loved and working with my clients was no small part of that,” Dick wrote. “I also feel so very blessed now as a retired person to have found something as rich and rewarding as my career while volunteering at Wellspring as well as the other volunteer activities I have in my life. There is nothing more satisfying to me than being a part of the joy I see each time I am at Wellspring and when I see a student I am working with suddenly have a breakthrough to understanding something they have struggled to learn.”
In his travels, Dick has learned that people unequivocally care for their children’s future no matter their creed, race or nationality.
He has drawn inspiration from the health services provided to every man in less developed countries like Cuba — noting that if the Unites States had universal healthcare there would be less suffering within Wellspring’s walls.
Dick works as a dishwasher — removed from the guests and in the kitchen. Here, he nurtured a relationship with a guest who would come to the kitchen every morning with an ice container.
“I don’t speak any Asian languages and I don’t think she was able to speak any English,” he said. “With body language, she would hand me the container and we would fill it with ice and she would nod and go on. I don’t know if you are familiar with Asian culture, but they are not likely to touch somebody. There is a space that they usually don’t enter. This went on for a long time and then one morning, she reached out, smiled and held my hand,” tearing up, he said. “That is just an example of the kind of atmosphere that Wellspring generates.”
His words of wisdom:
“I hope that one day you can look back on your experiences and rejoice in how much you loved doing what you did while you were experiencing it.”