Four years after his passing, Rappahannock County resident and photographer Richard Lykes lives on. Last Thursday, the Northern Piedmont Community Foundation granted more than $85,000 to local nonprofits on behalf of the Richard Lykes Rappahannock Community Fund.
The largest of those grants awarded $35,000 to the Fauquier Free Clinic, which provides free dental and medical care to Rappahannock residents who can’t afford to pay.
Members of the Community Foundation and various representatives from area nonprofits gathered last Thursday night (Dec. 12) at the Jessamine Hill home of John Anderson and Kathleen Robertson in Washington — and then came the checks.
“This is a very special night: This is the world premiere of a video which tells the story of Richard Lykes, and his gifts to Rappahannock County — his gifts while he was living, and his gifts since he’s passed,” foundation executive director Cole Johnson told the party of about 70. “Most of you, here, know about his recent gifts, but his past gifts to the county were many, through his articles and photography, and his volunteering with multiple organizations.”
The NPCF manages the Lykes Fund and is responsible for honoring Lykes’ last wish that his $2-million estate be used “for the good of Rappahannock County.” In 2011, a $25,000 matching grant from the Lykes Fund jumpstarted the purchase and construction of a new playground at the elementary school, bringing the fun back to students suffering from a closed playground.
Shot and produced by Washington resident Forrest Marquisee, the five-minute video shown at the Jessamine Hill event described Richard Lykes the man, the photographer, the philanthropist.
“It was a mutual thing,” Lykes’ twin brother Roy said, as photographs taken by Lykes streamed across the screen. “He made so many wonderful friends out here. The last 15 years of his life out here were his happiest. He felt that there was a need, out here in Rappahannock County, for schools, for children, for scholarships, for community projects. And he liked to be involved — quietly, from the background.”
Of the 13 grant recipients present at the ceremony, the Fauquier Free Clinic received the largest sum, a $35,000 grant that will help outfit a new dental clinic, including a digital dental imaging system, dental chairs, drills and other essential equipment. Since 1993, the Free Clinic has provided free health and dental care to low-income families in Rappahannock and Fauquier counties, but the scarcity of dental care in rural Rappahannock has led the clinic to being the sole source of dental care for a proportionally higher percentage of county residents.
“We, in the last year, saw almost 1,800 individuals from the two counties,” said Fauquier Free Clinic executive director Rob Marino, noting that almost 200 of those patients are Rappahannock residents. “So we’re a fairly large program. We’re really the only place to go if you need health care or dental care and you can’t afford to pay — short of just going to the emergency room and being faced with a bill that you probably can’t manage.
“We really feel that with the volunteer service that we get, with the donations and services from our hospital and our local medical community, that we can turn one dollar donated into six dollars worth of health and dental care,” he said, adding that the Warrenton clinic is open Tuesdays through Thursdays every week. “And so somebody smarter than me can figure out how far $35,000 will get us!”
Rappahannock Pantry Inc. was awarded $12,000 to help purchase a refrigerated truck to allow for greater capacity to receive perishable food donations, which help feed nearly 12 percent of county residents through the organization’s Food Pantry in Washington.
In addition, three organizations were awarded $5,000 each. Hospice of the Rapidan, which provides compassionate end-of-life care to terminally ill patients and their families, will use the funds to establish a satellite service center in Warrenton. The Rappahannock Historical Society, devoted to the collection, interpretation, preservation and dissemination of the county’s history, will dedicate the grant money to costs associated with and electronic preservation processes. The Scrabble School Preservation Foundation, founded to preserve the school and share its legacy, will use the funds to launch an exhibit entitled “Scrabble School: Realizing the Promise,” to teach children about segregation.
“It’s definitely an endowment for the community, and for the things that Richard cared about,” said NPCF board chairman John McCarthy. “It’s a way that the people who didn’t have the honor and joy of knowing Richard will be able to think of that name in the future, and wonder at the generosity of somebody that would do something like that, for the fullness of time.
“The difficulty that we often struggle with, is trying to be true to his intent,” McCarthy continued. “It was an unrestricted gift; he had some things that he was interested in — the needs of children, the needs of the elderly, the arts — but beyond that, he wanted there to be some flexibility, so as needs emerged, there’d be the resources to respond. But I think he’d be very happy with what we’re spending his money on.”
As a member of the community foundation’s grants committee, Washington attorney Sharon Luke was tasked with evaluating $260,000 in grant requests, and determining where to send the $85,000 set aside for the year.
“It was very difficult, this year, to make the decisions about the gifts,” Luke said, noting that the $85,000 in grants marks a 75 percent increase from last year. “We’d had so many wonderful organizations that applied for the gifts. We tried to make gifts to organizations that didn’t receive gifts last year. And next year, we will try to reach some of the organizations that we were not able to give to this year; we hope they all re-apply.”
Headwaters Foundation will use its $4,665 grant to continue its mission of fostering educational excellence in Rappahannock by providing a summer remediation program for children in kindergarten, and first and second grades. Preschoolers enrolled in Head Start will benefit from the $4,048 grant to Skyline CAP— which operates Head Start in six local counties including Rappahannock — thanks to technology upgrades in the classroom.
Castleton Festival, which nurtures young artists and creates opportunities for shared cultural experiences in the community, will use a $4,000 grant to transition its successful “Opera Alive” program, piloted during the 2013 season to bring area students behind the scenes at the annual opera and music festival, into a comprehensive outreach program. Rappahannock County Schools will use a $3,000 grant to purchase a new sound system for the high school auditorium
CASA’s Children Intervention Services will continue its mission of helping abused, abandoned or neglected children with a $3,000 grant to expand its service area to serve Rappahannock children; Aging Together/RRSC will enhance services for older adults and their families with a $2,250 grant to implement the Stanford University Chronic Disease Self-Management program.
The Piedmont Environmental Council, dedicated to safeguarding the Northern Piedmont’s landscape, communities and heritage, will use a $1,000 grant to support its “Rappahannock Buy Fresh Buy Local” program and lead outreach efforts in county schools during fall’s Farm-to-School Week.
And RappCats, a cat rescue organization, will use a $1,000 grant to defray fuel costs for volunteers to get to the new adoption center.
“I think that the way he structured his donation to us, and what he wanted us to do, ensures that his name will go on for a long, long time, and will do good works far beyond the length of time that a human life can encompass,” McCarthy said. “And it was a great gift.”