By Linette Hidalgo | Photo by Sarah Harvey
Quiet and unassuming are two words that initially come to mind upon first meeting vendor Richard Moore. However, you will quickly learn that Richard is humorous, kind, thoughtful, and incredibly interesting to speak with. His life is a myriad of hands-on work experience: diesel mechanic, rancher, heavy equipment operator. This is a man who has worked hard and overcome setbacks and struggles.
As a child, Richard endured the difficulty of being born without outer ears, a rare condition known as anotia. When Richard was a toddler his mother realized that he responded to sound despite lacking ears. Thus began a long series of medical evaluations and surgeries to build ears for Richard. He was fitted with a hearing aid, and also went through speech therapy and learned to read lips.
Because of numerous trips to Denver for ear procedures, Richard’s schooling during childhood was spotty. Unfortunately, the surgeries proved ineffective for Richard and by middle school he and his parents gave up the pursuit of medically developing his outer ears. Richard’s schooling was consistent from middle school through high school.
Following high school, Richard earned his certification as a diesel mechanic and went to work as the only diesel mechanic at Ford Motor Company in Florence, Colorado. His work as a mechanic was followed by a stint as a tow company owner and operator. Richard then switched gears, working several ranching positions—including raising bucking horses for the National Finals Rodeo. Though he worked this job on his own, he sometimes assisted his father, also an adept rancher. Richard went on to work for Snyder’s Aggregates (now the Aggregate Source) in Cañon City for about nine years. He then became a foreman for a salvage company.
Richard’s life changed course drastically in 2004 when he was in a serious motorcycle accident. He suffered several injuries including a collapsed left lung, which could not be repaired due to the risk of surgery at the time. Richard used up what savings he had to pay his medical expenses. No longer able to use his two decades of experience with manual labor, he tried other types of employment, including restaurant work. But his lung problems worsened, and he soon learned he had developed aspergillosis, a fungal infection in the lungs, as well as reoccurring bleeding due to ruptured blood vessels in the lungs. While he is mostly able to manage his lung issues with medication and inhalers, his breathing problems are severe and make many types of work impossible to endure for more than a few hours—and many office jobs are unrealistic for Richard due to his hearing limitations.
After several attempts to stay employed while experiencing health restrictions, Richard became homeless in 2007. A few years later, Richard met Brian Augustine, the Denver VOICE vendor who introduced him to the vendor program. Because vendors for the VOICE are considered independent contractors, they are able to determine their work schedules, which is perfect for Richard. He can work three to four hours at a time without the worry of being deemed an incapable or unsatisfactory employee.
According to Richard, vending helps maintain his sanity because he is able to get out and talk with different people. He also regularly offers assistance at the VOICE office, helping stock newly arriving newspapers each month. His willingness to help in any way he can is evident and he has come through on short notice to help out when needed.
Richard is currently working toward an approval to receive disability, but still wants to find another job he can successfully work despite his health limitations. He is, after all, “a good old country boy, just trying to get along in life,” with no intention of giving up. ■