JROC has punched above its weight class for a couple decades now. The members of this organization both past and present are the epitome of the Margaret Mead quote, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” We may not have changed the world, but Richmond would not be the same as it is today without our members.
The James River Park System is the heart of Richmond and benefits radiate from it. I won’t bore you rehashing facts from economic impact studies or academia. During this continuing pandemic people voted with their feet and went outside in droves. Most visibly, the T. Tyler Potterfield bridge was always bustling. People explored all areas of the park attempting to space out and achieve a bit of solitude and normalcy after sheltering at home. 2020 saw a record number of visitors topping the 2 million mark for the first time in park history. 2021 wasn’t far behind, with about 1.8 million visitors.
JROC members, volunteers, JRPS staff, and anyone else that donated time or money over the last couple years were instrumental in protecting the park and helping it flourish as Richmond rediscovered and gained a new found appreciation for its outdoor spaces.
I cannot thank you enough.
I don’t remember why I did this, but I did. When we started fundraising to build the Universal Access Ramp at Huguenot Flatwater, I asked our treasurer Sally to compile expenditures for the past 20 years of JROC history. It amounted to about one hundred thousand dollars. That is an incredible sum for a small group of people who had few dedicated fundraising events. The initial estimates for building at HFW came in at two hundred and fifty thousands dollars, or well over twice the amount we had raised in 20 years.
Thanks to many of you reading this, the Mary Morton Parsons Foundation, the City of Richmond, and corporate donors we blew that goal out of the water. The funds are in place, the construction has begun and now we need to see it through to completion.
Work projects in 2021 took on a new dimension. JROC introduced Thursday evening projects and they were a great success. Whether due to work, family, or other constraints not everyone can make weekend projects. These Thursday evening projects make great use of the summer light and allow JROC to be even more effective. Here’s some of the great work JROC accomplished this year.
As mentioned above, JROC has done a lot of fundraising over the past few years. We have set and met ambitious goals, thanks to the amazing Richmond outdoor community. Events like King of the James and Music at Maymont allow us to fund projects large and small. Thank you to everyone who helped out at those events.
A special shout out to Joey, Jen, Chloe, and Katie whom without KOTJ wouldn’t happen.
The secret to JROC’s twenty year success is a membership that uses the park daily. You, member, are the early warning system and the squeaky wheel. Your advice and feedback is invaluable to keeping JRPS a safe and thriving environment for all Richmonders. It is my goal as president to make sure we continue to better meet the needs of the hundreds of thousands of yearly visitors while preventing the park from being “loved to death.” This is not an easy task, but with your help, park staff, and grit we can get it done. Thank you for all that you do.
– Matthew Rosenberg, president, James River Outdoor Coalition