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Resident and Staff Racial Equity Committee Cultivates Awareness and Appreciation of Diversity

July 14, 2021
Categories: Our Community

Rooted in our Anabaptist heritage of stewardship, service, justice and compassion, VMRC strives to be a welcoming and inclusive community for residents, employees, volunteers and visitors. Our mission is to create an environment that reflects the diversity of Harrisonburg/Rockingham County, respecting the racial, ethnic, economic, religious and cultural diversity of those who live and work here and within the local community.

The Resident and Staff Racial Equity Committee, formed in the fall of 2020, is one way we are working towards this goal. The committee promotes awareness of what it means to live and work in a diverse community through education, experiences and celebration of diversity.

Committee chair and staff person Betsy Hay said, “We each bring unique experiences and perspectives to this community where we live or work and our campus life becomes even more vibrant when we have honest dialogue and learn from one another’s stories.”

The group meets monthly and has put its plan in motion with several programs designed to facilitate learning and growth.

In the spring of this year, they led a study group of 14 residents. Through articles, podcasts Ted Talks and discussion, participants were able to learn about diversity and grow in their understanding of one another.

Another project is an ongoing video series titled Journey to VMRC. The series features residents and staff and highlights the diverse cultural and life experiences they’ve had. The inaugural video in the series included resident Miriam (Mim) Godshall and staff person and committee member Roxy Figueroa-Vargus. Roxy and Mim met in Puerto Rico and have a fascinating story that spans all of Roxy’s life.

Members of the committee have varied reasons for wanting to take part. Resident Mary Jean Cross said, “I am pleased to be a member of the Racial Equity Committee because I have an opportunity to live out my commitment to the most diverse leader in human history - Jesus. Jesus crossed cultural, religious, ethnic, social and racial boundaries to give people what they needed. This is justice. In the Racial Equity Committee, I am challenged to be a more assertive follower of Jesus and provide resources, challenge, and encouragement to others.”

The committee is currently planning for a Hispanic Heritage Month Celebration in September.

Current committee members include: Don Albright (PV), Jane Burkholder (HH), Mary Jean Cross (PG), Roxy Figueroa-Vargus (staff), Betsy Hay (staff), Lolly Miller, (staff) Carolyn Nowlin (PP) Chelsea Robinson (staff) and Brenda Walker (HH).


Watch Journey to VMRC: Roxy and Mim

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“For us, volunteering gives us the opportunity to meet people from all areas of the VMRC campus and has broadened our perspective and understanding of the community we now call ‘home’.”

- Carter and Mary Ellen Lyons