R.I. Interfaith Coalition to Reduce Poverty honors founder Maxine Richman


In a touching Zoom tribute on Jan. 28, more than 130 people logged in to honor Maxine Richman for her years of hard work and service to the Rhode Island Interfaith Coalition to Reduce Poverty.

Online were members of the faith community in Rhode Island as well as members of Temple Habonim, in Barrington, and Richman’s family.  Since the event was virtual,  people attended from near and far, including some who Richman has worked with from across the United States, and temple and family members scattered around the country.

In addition to the tributes to Richman, the coalition announced the establishment of the Maxine Roy Richman Fund to Reduce Poverty to continue to support anti-poverty initiatives in Rhode Island. Rabbi Alan Flam announced that $25,000 has been raised toward the establishment of the fund at the Rhode Island Foundation.

Richman, now of Riverside, helped to found the R.I. Interfaith Poverty Coalition in 2008. Before that, she had worked for years on fighting poverty and advocating and organizing for social justice for poor Rhode Islanders.

At the tribute, those who had worked with Richman praised her leadership, organizing and lobbying abilities, drive and clear-sightedness.

“Maxine, you have shined a light on those who toil on the margins, and for that we are grateful,” said Rabbi Howard Voss-Altman as he opened the program.

Voss-Altman said the Torah teaches us that when we harvest, we are to leave the corners for those who have less.

“Our material gifts are gifts that should be shared,” he said. “Maxine, you have a generous and giving heart that is an inspiration to many.”

Those words were echoed by many others during the 90-minute program.

Richman’s grandchildren spoke about the example she set for them as they watched her in action.

In the end, the group was reminded that the evening was a tribute to Richman and not a farewell; she continues to fight for underserved Rhode Islanders.

In thanking her colleagues, friends and family, Richman said, “I know our coalition will continue to work to reduce poverty. I will always treasure the memories and all that we’ve done to bring economic security to Rhode Islanders.”

FRAN OSTENDORF (fostendorf@jewishallianceri.org) is the editor of Jewish Rhode Island.