When he was a teenager in 1981, Ken Richardson’s younger brother was shot and killed in gang violence. Coming from an abusive home, Richardson and his siblings grew up on the streets of Baltimore and often confronted dangerous situations, he explains. After the murder, “I realized that I had to do something to get the kids to put down their weapons,” says Richardson, a sales associate with Realty One Group Nest in North Andover, Mass.
For the last 30 years, Richardson has partnered with local clubs and youth centers to provide a place where he can bring at-risk youth in off the streets and teach them martial arts. While teaching self-defense skills and street smarts, Richardson also aims to inspire kids to turn away from a life of violence. His own backstory is a powerful way to connect. He’s launched No Weapon Needed, a program in partnership with Haverhill Inner City Boxing & Youth Development, a nonprofit gym, to provide not only self-defense classes but also mentorship and education opportunities for youth. Free tutoring is part of Richardson’s program.
“We want to instill in our boxers the idea that hard work, determination, generosity and, most importantly, education are not only essential to becoming a successful boxer but important to becoming a well-rounded, successful adult,” Richardson says. “Every kid is one adult away from a success story.” He adds that his mission is to be a leader and innovator in gun violence prevention and to improve the lives of young people from underprivileged communities.
Richardson not only provides self-defense classes but also has paid out of his own pocket for improvements to the facility for the Haverhill Inner City Boxing Club. He estimates that he has spent more than $100,000 on gym memberships for kids, gym equipment and even meals for the youth he serves, who typically come from poor backgrounds. “No Weapon Needed gives youth a place to go where they are socially accepted and wanted,” he says. “We are helping youth develop mentally, physically and spiritually, strengthening families and improving our community.”
To learn more about Richardson and other REALTORS® who are making extraordinary contributions to their communities and beyond, visit the REALTORS® Are Good Neighbors Facebook page.