Rick Airaudi and his family began monthly donations to Hanna not long after Hanna was established in 1945. Rick’s father, Claude, started the tradition, which continues to this day. In this donor profile, Rick talks about his experience growing up in a military family post World War II, and the lifelong values that he learned through his parent’s example (Claude Airaudi, pictured).
Rick Airaudi has vivid recollections of growing up in Redwood City on the San Francisco Peninsula when the world was a “much smaller place.” His neighborhood was comprised of new tract homes, small, affordable, and largely inhabited by “servicemen on the G.I. Bill,” which was an act to provide Federal Government aid for the readjustment to civilian life for returning World War II veterans. “It was a tough neighborhood,” says Rick. “In those days, there weren’t services or counseling offered to men returning from the war. And even though many of these veterans were struggling with undiagnosed trauma, they still made contributions to an extremely creative and productive community.”
Rick’s dad spent four years in the United States Marine Corps, serving in World War II, and came home having earned the Silver Star medal, awarded to members of the Armed Forces for gallantry in action against an enemy of the US. Despite the trauma, Rick’s dad returned home “a very mellow person,” says Rick. “My dad was a fine human being, as were many of these men who returned home and became productive members of society, despite what they lived through.”
Rick was very young when he learned of his father’s monthly donation to the Hanna Center, founded in Menlo Park in 1945, soon after World War II ended. “My dad didn’t make a lot of money, but he was committed to donating $5 a month to Hanna, almost as soon as the school opened. News traveled fast back then, and although I don’t remember the details, my dad gave to Hanna because I recall that several sons of a few men whom he fought alongside, who didn’t return, were able to attend Hanna.”
Many years later, Rick has continued the tradition of donating to Hanna, and over time, he became even more engaged with Hanna by serving on the board. “Hanna is now among a number of other organizations that I value, each of which exists to improve young people’s lives and their future opportunities,” says Rick. “I honestly cannot think of a more worthy cause.”