2015 Richardson Real Heroes

2015 Richardson
Real Heroes Biographies!

The Richardson Real Heroes program seeks to recognize the “silent generosity” of people who give of themselves to benefit Richardson. The process starts with people like you who nominate a person they perceive as a real hero.” From those nominations, the Richardson Real Heroes board chooses three to five individuals that are honored as this year’s Richardson Real Heroes. Although all of the nominees were “heroes” even before they were nominated, the Board chose five Real Heroes for recognition in 2015.  These five Heroes support four organizations.  Two person “teams” were nominated by one of these organizations.


Ida Dwight

Ida forms connections between people communities and countries. Call Ida. She will help. 

“Humble” describes Ida Dwight. Ida does not seek honors for her work. In fact, she considers what she does a responsibility and a privilege. Ida rolls her sleeves up and puts her head down to get things done. Her love for volunteerism and community service is well grounded in her Richardson church community. Her reach, however, is far greater.

For many, many years Ida has served on the ARK House Board of Directors. ARK House provides inexpensive housing for people whose loved ones are in a local hospital for extended periods of time. Ida does not mind doing some of the grunt work involved in cleaning, stocking and furnishing those apartments.

Besides that, her neighbors can count on one of her home cooked meals when the need arises. Her nourishing and delicious meals go to fellow church members, neighbors, and men and women staying at Hillcrest House in Dallas, a facility for people with HIV/AIDS.

More than 35 years ago, Ida’s vision for a center specifically for women was realized when she founded First Center at First United Methodist Church in Richardson. The organization provides fellowship, programming and support for women from throughout the area.

In addition to local efforts, Ida has served on the Mission Work Area of First United Methodist Church. She has chaired that committee and has been instrumental in focusing its efforts across continents. Through support of the Mission Work Area, funds have been provided for water wells in Haiti, a primary school in South Africa, and a hospital. Local agencies that benefit from this ministry’s funding include Habitat for Humanity, Nueva Vida Fellowship, and Wesley Rankin Community Center.


 Jim and Norma Murphy

Jim and Norma Murphy have volunteered for more than 13 years and support multiple departments at Methodist Richardson Medical Center. Jim, a former banker, volunteers for a weekly shift, but also took charge of the hospital’s “chart room” program, according to Joni Reed, volunteer coordinator at the hospital. Jim heads a team of three volunteers who assemble the patient charts within the facility.

 “Jim saw how busy nurses, techs and clinical staff were, so he stepped up and told them that he would take over,” Reed said. “Last year, Jim’s team assembled about 2,500 charts that allowed our nurses more time to do what they do best, which is save lives.”
 Reed said Jim likes to walk around the hospital to find other projects that will “free up” the clinical staff. “He never ceases to amaze me with his ideas.”
 Norma, a former nurse, volunteers twice a week. In addition to her weekly volunteer duties, she participates in the prayer shawl ministry, hand-knitting hundreds of shawls for critically ill patients. As Norma knits each shawl, she prays while she works, lifting patients in prayer. In most cases, she has never met the patient.
 The prayer shawl ministry is one of the hospital’s most popular patient projects, Reed said, and the hospital frequently receives thank you notes from recipients.

“Jim and Norma are constantly seeking out new ways to impact our patients and their family members in a positive way. Volunteers like them are hard to come by and we are so lucky to have them on our team,” Reed said. “Not only is their marriage and friendship a shining example of what two people can accomplish when they never give up, but their volunteer work speaks volumes about their character and passion for helping others.”

 “They love Richardson, Texas and volunteer tirelessly to ensure their neighbors receive the best care possible when it matters most. Hospitals are not easy places in which to work, volunteer or even to encounter. Our patients are tired, stressed, scared, sick, and overwhelmed. When someone like Jim or Norma walks into the room, whether it is with a simple hello or a beautiful prayer shawl, they make the worries disappear, even just for a minute. And that is priceless.”

Joseph ‘Renato’ Sperandeo

 Joseph “Renato” Sperandeo was born in Italy and came to the United States at age19, speaking no English.  He worked in a kitchen by day and went to high school at night.  Renato earned his high school diploma through the GED program and started college. Following an all-too-common theme, he could not continue college because of work and the financial needs of his family.  He was drafted into the Army, where he served his new country for two years.
 In the Army, he improved his English proficiency and gained enough confidence to apply for an entry-level position with Citibank.  He worked his way up to Vice President of Operations during his 14 years with the company.

Renato and his family moved to Richardson in 1984. He and his brother owned and operated three Italian restaurants and managed shopping centers until he retired in 2011.

Renato has devoted more than 1,000 hours at the Richardson Adult Literacy Center (RALC) helping more than 200 adults become comfortable in English. He also helps RALC improve instruction, mentors new volunteers, assists with student registration and helps with summer conversation classes.
 In addition to his exemplary volunteer English teaching service, Renato is active with his religious community, Richardson Baha’i as well as a barbershop chorus that performs in nursing homes 20 times a year. The chorus involves weekly practices, usually after he has taught a two-hour English class through RALC.

Jeff Stuart

Jeff Stuart started his volunteer “career” at NETWORK of Community Ministries in 2002 in the food pantry. Now, he has made himself an indispensable cog in NETWORK’s finance department. Jeff has utilized his background in systems analysis as a part of the team that receives, records and deposits donations. He also is responsible for managing the donor database, preparing management reports and providing technical support to staff.

In 2014, Jeff joined the Technology Requirements Team, a group of staff members/volunteers planning and executing a five-year plan for technology updates. His work includes documenting the financial process and giving input on the requirements of a new database system from the perspective of a volunteer and former technical consultant and systems analyst.

 Jeff serves all day every Tuesday and some Thursdays, giving 432 hours total in 2014. He never leaves work undone and comes in on extra days to make sure donations are processed and thank you letters are generated in a timely manner. NETWORK has eight employees and only one part-time accounting employee.

“Without Jeff we could not process donations,” said Elizabeth Scheihing, NETWORK’S volunteer coordinator. “He continually goes above and beyond, supporting NETWORK however he can. While his services are essential to NETWORK, most people do not see his hard work and dedication. In most cases the work he does for NETWORK would only be trusted to a paid staff member. His tireless efforts, dependability and trustworthiness have made him an exception to the rule.”

Jeff worked for more than 20 years in systems analysis design, processing, and tax preparation and is now retired. He is married to Anne. They have two children, Michael and Kimberly, each of whom are married with two children and live locally. He is the Treasurer of the local Knights of Columbus chapter and has served as a marriage mentor with his wife through All Saints Catholic Church.