Why have we changed the name of our nonprofit? Short answer: we need a reboot.
We are the best kept secret in the seventeen counties we serve. That obscurity does not help our potential clients, and it does not help us as a nonprofit which needs community support. When I go out to speak with community groups of all kinds, I always encounter people who have either never heard of Rappahannock Legal Services, aren’t aware of our mission or have no idea how many counties we try to serve with our small number of attorneys. For a nonprofit that has been around since 1973, that is not a good situation. So now is the time for us to reintroduce ourselves as Legal Aid Works® to the neighbors and communities that we have been working among for over four decades. A longer explanation of our name change decision is on our newly designed website.
The process of changing our name has been complicated and interesting. It started with a strategic planning process, lots of conversations with our board of directors and stakeholders, and a decision to start the journey to a rebranding for our organization. Developing the name, applying for the trademark of that new name, and figuring out how to introduce the new name have taken about two years to reach this point. Like all changes and new initiatives, we feel hopeful and excited and a little apprehensive.
And that reminds me of what it must feel like for our clients to come to us in crisis, needing a change, hoping for a better future and yet fearful of the consequences. We see young mothers who have taken the courageous step of filing for protection from their abusers. We see people on the brink of homelessness, living in terrible conditions. And we see people in poverty struggling to change the circumstances in which they find themselves. It is our privilege to see how the enforcement of their legal rights can transform their lives and the lives of their families. Change is scary, change calls for courage, but change can lead to positive results.
As I worked with our board of directors on this rebranding effort during our recent board retreat, I asked them a series of questions to get them thinking about the importance of a name. First, I directed them to pair up and ask their buddy to tell them 1) his or her name, 2) why he or she was named that and 3) What would your buddy have been named if he/she had named him/herself? (What is his/her ideal name?). That definitely brought out some interesting stories of family history! And it reinforced how important a name is to our sense of identity. All board members had a personal story to tell about how they got their names and how they felt about it. We know that Legal Aid Works® has the same passion for justice with its new name. Please join us as we enter a new phase on the journey toward Justice For All.