Reston Community Center seeks input on programs, equity issues with strategic plan survey

Reston Community Center (via RCC/Facebook)

The Reston Community Center wants residents to share their leisure and recreational needs as well as their thoughts on social and racial equity in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

After the pandemic temporarily stalled the effort, RCC launched a six-question survey on June 10 to get public input on its 2021-2026 strategic plan, which will guide the organization’s approach to funding and programming over the next five years.

RCC previously commissioned the University of Virginia to conduct a community survey in 2019. The goal of that survey was to gauge how people used the community center’s activities and facilities, along with their opinions on the possibility of a new Reston performing arts venue.

This new online survey will serve as a “kind of temperature check” on whether the issues identified in the 2019 survey “had been dramatically altered in any ways” by the pandemic, according to Reston Community Center executive director Leila Gordon.

RCC also plans to convene focus groups this summer to help craft the new strategic plan.

According to Gordon, the RCC Governing Board initially planned to meet in January to determine the core “pillars” of the strategic plan, but with Fairfax County seeing high COVID-19 transmission rates at the time, those discussions were postponed until April.

The board ultimately settled on six main themes for the strategic plan: facilities, equity, programs and services; community connections, communications, and stewardship and accreditation.

“Its goals and objectives will help us allocate resources, assess opportunities, establish priorities and hold ourselves accountable,” Gordon said.

One of the questions in the survey addresses social and racial equity issues in the community, asking, “How do you think RCC can help Reston continue to be a welcoming, inclusive and accessible place to live, work, learn and play?”

Gordon says RCC approaches social and racial equity from a variety of angles, from programs that deal with racism and related issues to an emphasis on diversity when it comes to hiring staff.

However, former police officer Derek Chauvin’s murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis on May 25, 2020 and the nationwide protests for racial justice that followed that summer served as a reminder that more work needs to be done.

“RCC has had programming focusing on racial and social equity for several years as an outgrowth of our long-time commitment to meaningful celebration of the King holiday, as well as honoring the values established by [Reston founder] Bob Simon at the outset of Reston’s creation,” Gordon said in an email. “With the response to the murder of George Floyd, it was clear that this journey for the community, county and country is far from over.”

After the survey closes on July 16, RCC will hold focus group meetings, which will include translation services for people the survey was unable to reach, to get feedback on the identified themes the survey discusses. A follow-up presentation from the University of Virginia will take place July 26.

Staff will draft the strategic plan and finalize it with the community center’s board in September, when the public will be able to weigh in on the plan itself.

The final plan is slated to be approved at the board’s Oct. 4 meeting.

Photo via Reston Community Center/Facebook

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