In 1974, Richard Nixon was the president of the United States, Hank Aaron passed Babe Ruth for 1st place on the all-time home runs list and the Orange County Rape Crisis Center was founded.
Since then, eight different men have become commander-in-chief and Aaron’s record has been surpassed by Barry Bonds, but the OCRCC remains a staple in Chapel Hill, Carrboro, Hillsborough and surrounding communities.
However, a lot has changed within the Center. Last Friday, the OCRCC held an open house and 45th Anniversary Kickoff at their new office space on East Franklin Street, which was much needed because their previous space was unable to accommodate the expanding staff of the organization.
“In the last year, they have been so cramped with space, two, three people in a space trying to share the space,” Shanda Hamlett, a member of the Center's Board of Directors, said.
At the event, the OCRCC set up a game of bingo, where visitors could share a piece of cake, learn about the organization’s services, take their picture in a photo booth and practice responding to a crisis in order to fill out their card and receive a prize.
The organization is led by Executive Director Rachel Valentine, a UNC graduate.
Valentine said she first learned about the organization when representatives visited one of her undergraduate classes, and she immediately developed an “organization crush,” as she called it, on the Center.
Valentine took over as executive director in July of last year, and she is extremely proud of the variety of resources and services the Center offers, especially how accessible they are to anyone who needs help.
“Our agency offers help, hope and healing through 24-hour, totally free and confidential support services,” Valentine said.
However, the Center is planning on making their services more accessible in the near future.
“The biggest change, which is actually yet to come, is that we are working on launching an online and text-based chatline so that people can reach out the same way they would reach out for services through the helpline, but instead through text,” Client Services Director Gheisha Rosario-Diaz said.
The Center would also like to reach a more diverse audience and would like to share their services with more minority communities, specifically members of the Latinx community.
“It’s one of the visions we have had, and we have a racial equity task force that we have started, and that’s one of the populations that we have continuously wanted to reach, and we have had difficulty reaching,” Hamlett said.
The organization also stressed that April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, and is hosting a multitude of events in order to raise public awareness about sexual violence and educate the local community.
The events range from a CHCCS Loves Consent Kickoff Dance at the Chapel Hill Teen Center to a Teal Ribbon Banquet — teal representing the color of Sexual Assault Awareness Month — at Mediterranean Deli. The month ends with a Shout Out! Against Sexual Violence at Chapel Hill Public Library.
“It’s the event where our clients get to shout out to the world how they’re feeling and what has happened to them, and it provides them with a space where they can be safe to talk about what has happened,” Rosario-Diaz said.
A long-time staple in the Orange County community, OCRCC has made its mark on so many individuals, and they are excited to provide many more years of service, support and community.
“I love this organization. I mean, I’ve been here for a long time, even despite the fact that I live an hour away, I just cannot stop volunteering here because I just love the organization so much, and it’s one of the best organizations I’ve ever been a part of,” Hamlett said.
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