After the terrorist attack on Charlottesville VA August 12, 2017, Chanda McGuffin decided to start a “Bridge the Gap” conversation in Waynesboro, VA. Chanda had no idea that Sharon Fitz had helped to start one in Staunton VA just a few months prior. With Sharon already being Area Chair for the NAACP this would soon become a turning point as Chanda’s plans of wanting to start an Augusta County NAACP Branch became realer. Sharon’s expertise became Chanda’s guidance for starting the branch. The two joined forces to organize and strategize to charter this branch. Even with the executive team selected, committee chairs in place and 100 newly paid memberships ready for the national organization to review they did not get approved for the charter.
The saying remains true that, “If you don’t see a seat at the table go create your own table.” This is exactly what Sharon and Chanda decided to do. So instead of losing momentum and hope they decided to create their own social justice organization. RISE was born. RISE has become a respectable known household name all over Virginia and across the country. In just a short time, the Queens who run RISE have sat at the table with Mayors, politicians at every level of government and community leaders fighting for justice for the Black community. They really live up to their mission to give voice and hope back to our community.
They have created an all-Black library, an after-school program, tutoring services, a summer school program and a reading and writing camp for children. They also host an Annual Women’s Summit and Community Stakeholders’ Conference plus much more for the community to get involved in. They believe in the importance of coming together and being there for the children every step of the way. Their learning center welcomes all children where they are taught about Black history. Malcolm X said, “Education is our passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to the people who prepare for it today.”