Veteran living the American dream in Richmond:’I don’t have much money, but I am very wealthy’

Posted at 9:38 AM, Jan 31, 2020

RICHMOND, Va. -- Richmond business owner David Pastran is threading new life into broken furniture.

David spends his days alone, but don’t feel sorry for him. The third-generation upholsterer is finally working his dream job.

"I love it. It’s peaceful. It's great. Fulfills artistic thirst," the 41-year-old business owner said.

The Richmond man faced tall odds from the beginning.

As an El Salvadorian refugee, he escaped war and poverty as an infant and took advantage of his new beginnings in America.

“I appreciated it so much that I joined the Marine Corps," he said.

The Iraq War veteran served eight years.

After leaving the military David worked endless dead-end jobs.

“I dreaded going to work Monday to Friday," he recalled.

David desired to be his own boss. But how? He found independence at RVA Works.

The non-profit helps struggling entrepreneurs realize their goals.

The three-month course with business leaders provides know-how and networking.

RVA Works co-founder Dale Fickett said graduates, like David, boost the bottom line for everyone.

“We know that when we look at low-income zip codes that when a new business is started it is more likely that another business will follow," Fickett said.

David graduated in 2014, and a few weeks later, River City Upholstery was born.

David calls the shots in this one-man operation, working his way to a better, more independent life.

“It is an American dream. Definitely," he said. “I don’t have much money, but I am very wealthy.”

Greg McQuade features local heroes in a weekly “Heroes Among Us” segment. If you would like to nominate someone to be featured on “Heroes Among Us,” click here to email

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