Rachel Dix first heard about RAYSAC at After Prom as a junior at Salem High School in 2014. The following year, she won a Nissan Versa Note from First Team Auto Mall, a long-time sponsor of After Prom. That was when she learned about RAYSAC’s role in prevention and education aimed at helping youth avoid substance use.

“It’s hard to describe what this car meant and means to me today,” says Rachel. “I remember spending that day at Tanglewood mall praying that the car would go to someone who needed it, and it was okay that it didn’t go to me. At the time, I was driving a 1991 Pontiac Grand Prix that was not in the best condition. It could not have come at a better time, as my next step was going to community college at Virginia Western, and that was a 20-minute drive every day.”

Since then, Rachel attended Roanoke College and received her master’s degree in counseling from Virginia Tech. She is currently serving as a Youth Development Specialist at Family Service of Roanoke Valley.

“The best part of what I do at Family Service is making connections with the youth. The children and teens we get to work with are great for hundreds of reasons,” Rachel says. “I did not get the chance to participate in the types of programs and activities that we provide when I was younger, and I wish I had.”

She has learned about substance use disorders both through her education and her clients who have substance use disorders. Her desire to serve others includes continuing to help those with SUD as well as mental health issues.

Rachel encourages others to become familiar with RAYSAC and its mission (to reduce substance abuse among youth in the Roanoke Valley by enhancing and improving the coordination of substance abuse education, prevention, partnerships, and resources) and volunteer as they are able.

Interview Credit: RAYSAC Executive Board member Laura Wade