The Reporter (Vacaville)
SLADE TOASTED MARDI GRAS STYLE
An air of exuberant fun exploded Tuesday in Building 1400 at Solano Community College, complete with a green, purple and gold Carnaval theme.
Aside from Mardi Gras, the dozens of students, staff and others in attendance had but one celebratory goal — to fete outgoing Student Affairs Specialist Rischa Slade.
Tears and laughter mixed and hugs were plentiful as all hugged the much-beloved Slade, a longtime community advocate and former Vacaville City Councilwoman who has always expressed a passion for helping others.
After nearly nine years with the college, the Fairfield resident explained that it's just time, that her heart is telling her to retire.
In between photo sessions with her roomful of family, friends, coworkers, students and mentees — complete with intricate Carnaval masks and signs such as “Mondays should be optional” and “Good Vibes Only” — Slade shared her reasoning.
“I never thought I was all that,” she joked, holding up a bag of chips personalized with her photo. “Now I'm all that ON a bag of chips.”
Health issues, for one, set the stage. She's been plagued with back issues and sometime today is expected to undergo a triple fusion on her back. She'll needs lots of rest in recovery, something that's eluded the woman who's always in motion.
“I'm gonna miss my students. I'm gonna miss my coworkers. I'm gonna miss the camaraderie with Academic Support Services,” she said. “I'm not gonna miss the politics. I'm just very tired.
“I recognized that it was time to retire. I'm ready.”
Tuesday's gathering at SCC had her in tears many times.
“I wasn't expecting anything and that's what makes this so nice,” she said.
A slower pace is in her future, filled with relaxation and leisure.
“Right now, I just want to sleep,” she said, pausing to collect her bearings. “I want to rest. I want to read.”
She deserves it, friends said, after years of giving so much of herself to others. She was never afraid to speak up, to make waves, to get things done. Along the way, Slade mentored, she inspired, she touched so many lives.
Friend Olivia Stringer said she had known Slade and her husband for decades.
“I've known Rischa and her husband since they were active duty, 40-41 years,” she mused. We always had fun.”
Student Jennifer Barron said she looks up to Slade, who has been a great motivator in her life.
“I love her. I love her to death,” she declared. “She's spicy. She's feisty.”
Slade also genuinely cares, she said, and checks in with the mom of eight.
“I'm gonna miss her very much,” Barron said.
Students seek to name the college's food pantry for
Slade, who started it with some snacks and helped it grow. The matter is set to be brought to college trustees. And once life calms down, Slade promises she'll be around.
“I would like to tutor reading at a sixth-grade level,” she said, adding that reading may give kids a leg-up towards personal success.