Letter: Here’s to the next 40 years

Forty years ago, in October of 1972, the county governments of Culpeper, Fauquier, Madison, Rappahannock and Orange formalized their agreement that the Rappahannock Rapidan Community Services (RRCS) board would become the agency to address state and federal expectations related to services for seniors and individuals of all ages with disabilities related to mental illness, intellectual disability and substance use disorders.

From its inception until now, the success of the organization has been built upon the passion and commitment of volunteers, advocates and board members, coupled with the talent and commitment of staff. Over time, thousands of committed volunteers, hundreds of appointed board members and thousands of staff have created a stronger community for senior citizens and for individuals with disabilities. In the midst of our current challenges, it is easy to lose sight of the foundation laid down in the preceding four decades in our region. As the incumbents in this process, we at RRCS are doing our part to preserve what has been built while managing the current service delivery environment with its new and unique demands.

It is common for us to point out the unique challenges associated with our own time and tenure in this system – be it as volunteers, board members or staff. As we reflect back on the past forty years, however, it doesn’t take long to recognize that our predecessors in this important work faced formidable obstacles and fought to overcome powerful forces and competition for resources to address community needs. A look though the RRCS archives will soon reveal voices from our community who fought for funding, services, equal access and the development of a stronger community-based system of care. Those collective efforts have formed what is now an organization with more than 400 volunteers, 375 employees, 26 program locations and over 35 discreet services lead by a 15-member Board of Directors. Many of the services we provide now started with a handful of volunteers and advocates who wrote grants, raised funds and pushed their message before community leaders and government officials to gain recognition and ongoing support. We are in many ways indebted to those individuals for much of what we have today. It is this same drive and commitment that continue to make a difference in our region as we strive to address current needs.

A community that provides support and opportunities for the full range of its members through the collaborative efforts of volunteers, community organizations and government is strong and resilient during prosperous times as well as in seasons of austerity. The volunteers, staff and board members of RRCS look back proudly on the 40-year legacy of the organization and commit ourselves to continuing to build upon it.

Brian Duncan
RRCS executive director

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