2013 Citizens of the Year: Barbara and Dick Rosica

Feeding the hungry.

We’ve heard the phrase hundreds of times. It’s echoed through stories from the Bible, Sunday sermons, pleadings from non-profits, and slogans for global campaigns.

We empathize. Perhaps we give a donation or drop off canned goods during the holidays to a box placed at a local school or church.

For most of us, who are not hungry but most likely over-stuffed, dealing with the needs of the most needy is not something we readily have the stamina or soul for. It’s not that we are immune from the challenges of the poverty-stricken but it is more comfortable to not directly look at the faces and feel first-hand the plight of their predicament.

Enter Barbara and Dick Rosica.

For nearly 20 years, they have orchestrated the services of the Culpeper Food Closet located at St. Stephens Episcopal Church.

From less than a dozen volunteers to now more than 100, the Rosicas have turned an empty room into a shelved mini-grocery store where the makings of many meals are dispensed. It hasn’t been possible without countless donations from local businesses, groups and individuals who manage to keep the shelves filled most of the year.

When the shelves get low, Dick sends out the alert. The last few years have been challenging particularly during the holidays. For many, the economy has not been kind. Less money is available for many family budgets to have the luxury of giving.

That makes the task for the Rosicas harder. Their food ministry, embraced in their retirement years, was the beginning of a tireless mission of tending to those who, for a variety of reasons not all self-inflicted, are in need of compassionate help to supply the most basic of our needs – food.

In many ways, the Rosicas avocation to help out at their church and utilize their good organizational talents has proved a vocation of a higher voice.

“We felt called to do this,” Dick Rosica has said on a variety of occasions when asked what led them on this path.

The so-called golden years of retirement for the Rosicas have been a journey of faith reaping rewards for the thousands of recipients who have been fortunate to find their way to the Food Closet with the assistance of Culpeper Human Services.

One of the Rosicas many fans is director Lisa Peacock.

“Culpeper Human Services, in partnership with the Culpeper Food Closet, completes the eligibility requirements for people seeking supplemental food assistance then refers them to the Food Closet for help. We have worked closely with the Food Closet since its inception in 1984,” said Peacock.

“I have personally worked with Dick and Barbara since I came to work as the Assistant Director of Social Services in 1999. Under the guiding eye and loving hands of Dick and Barbara, the Food Closet collects and distributes food to help people living below the poverty level. Dick and Barbara coordinate the volunteers, the food collection from private citizens, churches, community groups, and businesses, and oversee fundraisers to give food directly to Culpeper citizens. They have been able to meet the need with the support of the community and without accepting taxpayer’s dollars. Because of the strong community support built by Dick and Barbara, Culpeper has provided low income families with meals and each year with a lovely Thanksgiving basket. They coordinate this program with monetary donations for the turkeys, with SWIFT who provides the side dishes and volunteer labor, and with Monica Chernin, a local attorney who does pie drives. As the Director of Culpeper Human Services, I am especially appreciative of the work done by Dick and Barbara to lessen food insufficiency for many of our working poor and especially the homeless in our community as they are particularly vulnerable. Dick and Barbara are among the hardest working, most dedicated and remarkably compassionate people I know. I am happy to see them receive this recognition for the passion and their devotion to the Culpeper Food Closet and the Culpeper community,” added Peacock.

Former director of human services and now mayor Chip Coleman first met the Rosicas playing bridge. Coleman laughs recalling getting beat pretty soundly but he knew from the beginning that the Rosicas were good people.

“Dick and Barbara represent what makes Culpeper a special place to live. As a former director of CHS, I learned that this community was made up of humanitarians who wanted to make a difference in people’s lives. Dick and Barbara are at the top of my list. They give their time and efforts on a daily basis to serve those in need in our community. I can’t think of a better couple to be recognized,” said Coleman.

Neither could we at the Culpeper Times.

Join us in congratulating Barbara and Dick Rosica as our 2013 Citizens of the Year!