Martinez mom finalist in national competition to take year off work

By: Hope Jensen Email
By: Hope Jensen Email
Rene Richardson

Rene Richardson has one child but decided to take in two more after she found out their mother, Erica Hart, was deploying to Afghanistan. (WRDW-TV / Aug. 23, 2012)

News 12 This Morning / Thursday, Aug. 23, 2012

MARTINEZ, Ga. -- A Martinez mom is a finalist in a national contest that could win her a year off work and $100,000.

Over 1,000 people entered the contest and five were chosen as finalists. One of those finalists is Rene Richardson, a woman taking in two kids while their mother is deployed to Afghanistan.

Richardson now has a full house with more laundry and more responsibilities.

"My load of clothes have tripled, I'm washing more," she said. "It's not just one, it's three. Making sure they are up on time, catching the bus, making sure they're eating and making sure their homework's done."

Richardson has one child but decided to take in two more after she found out their mother, Erica Hart, was deploying to Afghanistan.

"She's leaving and it's just like hectic because I'm sad that she's going," said 11-year-old Keilah Hart.

"I just kinda overheard her talking about wanting someone to care for her children while she goes over to Afghanistan and I wasn't actually in the conversation, but I turned around and told her I would," Richardson said.

As a single parent whose mother was also a single parent, the decision to take care of the kids was easy.

"It's a part of giving, giving back and that's really all I've grown up to do is giving back and to share what I have with someone else," she said.

The transition has been smooth, but there are still a few things to get used to.

"She just cooks differently. She uses different stuff," Keilah said.

"Sometimes it does get difficult because they're used to her," Richardson said. "They're adjusting to my rules and regulations in the house and their structure. They have a bed time."

If she wins the contest, she'll be able to take a year off work and focus on the things that are most important.

"It takes a village to raise a child and that's what they are. They're part of a village and we've got to make sure they grow in the proper way," she said.

Hart is a member of the National Guard. She is stationed at Fort Stewart in Savannah and she deploys the last week in August. The kids will say their final goodbyes Friday. Right now, they don't know how long she will be gone.

If you want to vote for Richardson, go on to the Facebook page for Gold Peak Tea, the sponsors of the contest. You have to like their page and then vote for Rene. The voting goes until tomorrow. They will choose the winner around Labor Day.

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