Local resident and business owner, Billy Johnson dreamed of starting an organization that would help the people of Rabun County. He shared his idea with Andy Anderson, President of Rabun Gap-Nacoochee School and Mary Ann Rich, a realtor and accountant. Through their enthusiasm, others local residents--Sally Broaddrick, a nurse, Gay Houser, , and Virginia Godfrey, --joined the planning. The result was ‘Rhapsody in Rabun,’ an organization that would partner with a local non-profit group that was in need of financial help. This loosely structured organization of willing volunteers embarked on a journey to serve Rabun County.
In 1991, Rhapsody in Rabun chose their first recipient, Habitat for Humanity. In order to build a house, Habitat for Humanity needed to raise $10,000. Though organizers were very nervous about raising the sum, with the great preparation and many volunteers, Rhapsody in Rabun not only raised the necessary funds, but also received much deserved attention.
With the first Gala event, organizers asked well-known artist Mary George Poss to create a logo. Poss painted the Habitat House #10 logo on canvas. In 1992 with another recipient selected, organizers returned to Poss and requested a new logo to be used for all time. Mary George graciously agreed. The resulting logo appears on every event invitation, program and poster.
In 1993, Rhapsody in Rabun became more organized with the help of Virginia Godfrey's husband, a CPA, and Jack (John) Byrne, a local attorney. As the third Gala approached, Rhapsody had By-Laws and a mission statement:
“Rabun Rhapsody is a non-profit organization whose purpose is to raise funds for distribution to charitable organizations in Rabun County, Georgia. The funds are raised through an annual event known as “Rhapsody in Rabun.”
Since 1991, it was also established that Rhapsody in Rabun would always be the first Monday after Labor Day. As of 2017, the GALA will be the second Saturday in August.
In 1994, Rhapsody in Rabun made another important stride in their organization. With the help Foxfire, that year's recipient, and the Rhapsody board, the Summary of Procedures was developed. This book contains the duties and timelines for each committee. By following this valuable resource, year after year Rhapsody finds success.
In 2020, the Rhapsody Board had voted to have the GALA event every other year the 2nd week in August starting in 2021. In our No-GALA years, the Board will review the By-Laws, the Application and Procedures. The new mission statement will reflect the new focus:
"Rabun Rhapsody is a non-profit organization whose purpose is to raise funds for distribution to charitable organizations in Rabun County, Georgia. The funds are raised through an annual event known as “Rhapsody in Rabun”, though there may be other events."
After the August GALA event, Rhapsody in Rabun advertises and accepts applications for the next year's recipient. In January, each applicant organization prepares a presentation for the our first board meeting of the new year. After the presentations, the Rhapsody in Rabun board members discuss and vote for the new recipient for that year. Later that day, the president of Rhapsody informs each group of the decision.
In February, the recipient joins the board and the work begins for another wonderful Gala event. Since the first event in 1991, when $10,000 seemed unattainable, Rhapsody in Rabun has raised a total of $1,435,215.20 for Rabun County charities