RAP Is Growing to Better Serve Our Members
In 2009, RAP asked the residents of Riverside Avondale what they thought about the direction of the community and the organization. We learned that in addition to historic preservation, residents wanted RAP to become more involved with quality-of-life issues and community improvement. People are concerned about rising crime levels, absentee landlords, poor drainage conditions, inconsistent code enforcement, the continued viability of our historic shopping districts and local businesses, and threats to our beloved tree canopy. While residents continue to view RAP as a valid—and valued—organization, we learned they also want more from us than we have previously provided.
The problem is, these expanded goals exceeded what our very small staff could provide. Until three years ago, when Carmen Godwin became RAP’s Executive Director, RAP operated with a skeleton staff of just one full-time employee. We relied (and continue to rely) heavily on the enthusiasm and hard work of volunteers and our board to meet the needs of the community.
“My goal from the moment I took this position,” said Godwin, “was to better manage the organization’s resources so that eventually we could build up its capacity. Simply put, I knew we not only needed more staff to meet our mission, but also to recruit employees with hands-on expertise in the areas that matter to our membership: historic preservation, community enrichment, and volunteer cultivation.”
The tremendous success of the Riverside Arts Market, which RAP launched in 2009, has helped expand RAP’s earned income and given the organization additional financial flexibility. This increased stability, in combination with generous contributions from several RAP board members, has allowed us to hire two new staff, bringing the total RAP/RAM workforce to six full-time employees.
Torrie Parette is RAP’s new Volunteer & Membership Coordinator. Laura Lavernia, who has a masters in Historic Preservation, is RAP’s first-ever Preservation & Education Coordinator. Both are excited about working with the city’s premier preservation organization, and are settling into their new offices at Buckland House.
“RAP has the city’s best volunteer corps,” said Parette, “and it’s important that we be able to give our volunteers opportunities that actually matter to them—find out what they like to do and what their talents are, so that the volunteer experience is a positive and satisfying one.” For her part, Lavernia is enthusiastic about developing educational workshops and initiatives that give our residents new tools: “I am committed to helping continue RAP’s vision of a community that values its historic assets and acts as good stewards of these.”
“Our Strategic Plan was fueled by feedback from the community,” said Godwin, “but we haven’t always had the human resources to implement the boldest elements of that plan. I’m so pleased that, because of generous donations and careful stewardship of your membership dollars, we’re now in a position to take RAP—and this neighborhood—to the next level.”