Mardi Gras/Casino Night Themed Event to Support Revitalization of RAOC

An upcoming event will help fund efforts to revitalize and redirect the Rockbridge Area Occupational Center (RAOC) making it RAOCMardiGras2016 Red & Gold Irish Mask on beadstate-of-the-art in delivering its mission. The fundraiser takes place on February 18, from 6 to 9pm on the campus of Virginia Military Institute. The Mardi Gras themed event, dubbed “Riverboat Queen,” features casino games with professional card dealers, as well as cajun and creole cuisine complete with authentic King Cake flown in from  New Orleans. Three door prizes, each linked to the evening’s themes will be awarded: “Mardi Gras,” “A Taste of New Orleans,” and “Riverboat Queen.” The evening culminates when the winner is announced for a top-tier trip for two to Louisiana’s French Quarter. The gala event is RAOC’s main event to raise money and awareness within the community for its mission which is to provide employment opportunities and vocational training for adults with disabilities from Rockbridge County, Lexington and Buena Vista. Partnering with area industries, businesses and individuals to provide meaningful work opportunity for its clients, RAOC has been doing just that for more than 45 years.

“Contrary to what is usually shown on television coverage, Mardi Gras is at heart a neighborhood celebration. Friends get together throughout the year to plan an evening of fun, food and maybe a little mischief. RAOC’s third annual event aims to provide all three,” says Board Chair Maia Browning.

Moody Hall at VMI is the venue for the Riverboat Queen fete. Attendees can kick off Mardi Gras season with themed decor, food and drink while contributing to a cause that helps the community.

Facing reduced funding and more complexities regarding State and Federal resources, RAOC is reinventing itself to not only keep up with changes but to get ahead of the curve. This fundraiser is a critical part of the group’s operating abilities now and in the future. In a focused and deliberate way, RAOC is seeking to become the new industry standard for helping adults with disabilities engage with their communities. Providing the means of learning and performing work that supports the community, area businesses and most importantly the intellectually and developmentally disabled (IDD) individuals and their families is the goal. RAOC’s Board has engaged help from industry experts to develop a future focused, sustainable path for the organization to continue to deliver its mission and provide best in class vital services to its clients. The short-term goal of the current push to survive and thrive in a changing environment is to create a 5-year transformation plan. The plan will shift RAOC to a new service delivery model that meets the needs of current and future consumer/clients and the Rockbridge community.

RAOC considers this fundraiser a debut of its revitalization plan and seeks to share all its past, present and future impacts with the Rockbridge community during this festive annual event.

“RAOC has been largely self-sustaining over its history, thriving on partnerships with local manufacturers. As a result, RAOC has a much lower profile in the community than many other non-profits. This fundraiser is critical to meeting our financial goals for transitioning to our new business model,” Browning adds.

Cost of the event is $50 per attendee. Advance tickets are available at 928-606-2682 or 540-464-9528. Raffle tickets for the marquee prize, a round trip for two to New Orleans with three nights at the historic Hotel Monteleone in Louisiana’s French Quarter and a dinner Jazz cruise on the Mississippi River are available at Niko’s Grille, and at Sweet Treats (in Lexington), and TNT’s Good Ta Go (Buena Vista). Winners need not be present. Event tickets are also available at these venues.


Interviews and additional information are available upon request.


Press Release Prepared by:
Clair Norman
CHN Communications
(804) 647-3119!

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