skip navigation
Vol. LVII, No. 24
December 2, 2005

previous story

next story
R&W Celebrates 60 Years of Helping Others

The year was 1945. Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in baseball. Alfred Hitchcock's movie Spellbound entertained moviegoers nationwide. The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine was awarded for the discovery of penicillin. And a picnic was held — but not just any picnic.

What began as a no-frills, lunchtime event has evolved into one of the most respected and successful nonprofit organizations within the federal arena — the Recreation and Welfare Association, serving both the NIH community and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Yet its goals and boundaries go well beyond the government. Over the years, R&W has raised millions of dollars and created programs for such worthy causes as the Children's Inn, Special Love/Camp Fantastic and Friends of the Clinical Center.

The group also goes out of its way during times of need. Just recently, the association mounted relief efforts in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, working with the Heart of America Foundation in efforts that culminated in getting employees to donate around 200 backpacks to the Houston school system, which dispersed them to school children living in shelters and other temporary housing.

This NIH Record clipping depicts the R&W Association in its early going, circa 1953, when the employee theater group "The Hamsters" entertained regularly.

R&W is well represented, with about 5,000 members, according to the president of the organization, Randy Schools. And on the heels of its 60th anniversary, "our focus remains much the same as it always has — to serve and help people, both inside of NIH and on the outside. It's what we're all about," he noted.

The association has provided members with myriad offerings — including on-site fitness centers, hosting sports and athletic teams and events, NIH hair salons/barbershops and an NIH art gallery. In addition, the organization provides travel services, photo processing, notary services, discounted tickets to the theater, amusement parks and sporting events, and held special movie nights. It also offers housing services and a monthly newsletter. In all, it affords employees a host of other social and educational activities — basically, something for everyone.

"And to think it started out as a picnic, put together by a former employee of the National Institute of Mental Health, Hazel Rea," said Schools, who has been affiliated with R&W since 1978. The picnic turned into some softball games and a league, and progressed from there, explained Schools. "I don't think anyone ever thought we would reach anywhere near the current level of activities we have or the charities we support today," he added.

Schools is especially proud of R&W's involvement with programming and fundraising for Special Love/Camp Fantastic, a group that also has close ties with the National Cancer Institute. The organization, which helps children with cancer, started out serving 33 youngsters but now has a clientele numbering about 400. R&W also provides major fundraising efforts for two other NIH charities, Friends of the Clinical Center and the Children's Inn. Those who participate in the Combined Federal Campaign can make contributions to either of those charities, which are listed in the CFC guide.

Plans for a dinner and other celebratory events are currently under way to honor the R&W volunteers and former association employees.

To learn more about R&W and its services and programs, visit or call (301) 496-6061.

back to top of page