Raveaux Reflects on Career

The year 2021 will see a change in the top administrator at CHANGE, Inc. Judy Raveaux, CEO, has announced her retirement effect July 1, 2021 and the search is on for her replacement. The imprint she has left in her 37 plus years-tenure as the organization’s leader is indelible. Under Raveaux’s leadership, CHANGE has grown from a group founded in 1983 to help laid-off Weirton Steel workers find jobs to a multi-service Community Action Agency and Federally Qualified Healthcare Clinic.
CHANGE (Christians Helping Arrange New Growth Enterprises) was founded by a group of ministers in the Weirton area who supported the initiative through their churches. Located in the basement of the COVE Presbyterian Church, CHANGE included three employees: the director, the secretary and the counselor. Funding was uncertain and the organization, started due to National Steel’s announcement of its intention to close the Weirton Plant, was tenuous.
Judy’s husband, Brad, was among those who was laid-off from Weirton Steel and that’s what led Judy to seek out the services of the organization.
“At the time our boys were little and jobs were hard to come by,” Judy recalls. “Both Brad and I worked odd jobs to help make ends meet. I went to CHANGE to get help with putting my resume together and ended up being hired.”
Judy was hired as an administrative assistant in 1983. At the time CHANGE’s services were limited to creating resumes and cover letters for thousands of individuals coming through the doors.
“It was one room, with a desk in each corner. We received newspapers to help laid-off steelworkers find employment. We offered assistance with job search activities which included creating resumes, cover letters and mock interviewing.”
After seven years Judy was named director and CHANGE began to evolve.
“When I was named director, I went to Charleston to petition for more funding for CHANGE, Inc. The ministers were able to get us deemed a limited purpose agency under the community service block grant, however it wasn’t enough money to help our citizens in need. Through many meetings we were able to gain status as a full-fledged Community Action Agency.”
That would open the door for other funding sources for the growing need for services.
“We saw the need for the Domestic Violence Shelter. We saw the need for transportation due to many citizens needing additional transportation to get to and from work as we went from one member of the family working to two and three being employed,” she said.
“We opened a free clinic due to the thousands who lost their health insurance, As a community action agency we conduct needs assessments every two years and our programs are based on those needs.”
CHANGE expanded its services to include a Federally Qualified Health Clinic with physical, pediatric, dental, vision, behavioral health and a pharmacy. The footprint of the Clinic would grow to include Newell and Wintersville as well as Weirton.
CHANGE’s school-based health sites would be established at Weirton Elementary and expand to five schools. Emergency services would expand beyond the Domestic Violence Shelter to include Comfort House and Veterans Services.
“I believe CHANGE, Incorporated is one of the best kept secrets in our community,” said Raveaux “We have helped so many families through our programs When you need the help we are there. Over the years we have brought so much money into the community for many federal and state programs which normally would not have happened.”
The growth was not easy and Raveaux often met with resistance as she pushed forward for the services she believed to be critical for the service area.
“My biggest challenge in the 37 plus years has been the politics,” said Raveaux, “There have been so many times that I just wanted to say ‘really, are you really closing your eyes to this’ and I found myself taking the issue on as I knew it was best for the community.
“I grew up with CHANGE, Inc, and really had to fight at times for what I believed in and what I believed was best for our communities. My Board has been the most supportive and have stood behind the work we have done over the years.”