By JESSICA WETZLER
Daily News-Record 9/18/20
Involved, caring and a person of integrity are all words Elroy Miller used to describe Nancy Hopkins-Garriss.
“She has been a remarkable director,” said Miller, former Pleasant View board president.
For the last 35 years, Hopkins-Garriss has brought new life to Pleasant View and for the individuals who call it home. And while she has shared numerous experiences during her time serving as executive director, she is ready to share two more — Pleasant View’s 50th anniversary and her own retirement.
Founded in 1971, Pleasant View provides support to individuals who remain in their own homes or can live on their own. Through residential support services, Pleasant View provides intensive, individualized training to those with intellectual disabilities and at least one other disability, according to its website.
There are roughly 125 people who have entered the programs offered at
Pleasant View and reside at the 11 residential locations scattered across Harrisonburg and Rockingham County.
Hopkins-Garriss found her way to Pleasant View after working for Friendship Industries, a non-profit packaging company in Harrisonburg that employs people with disabilities. Before that, she started her career working with children at the mental hospital formerly known as the DeJarnette Center for Human Development in Staunton.
After making the transition to Friendship Industries, Hopkins-Garriss said she enjoyed working with people who had intellectual disabilities, which led to her journey to Pleasant View.
“And the rest is history,” she said.
Pleasant View’s vision that all people should have the opportunity to live in and enrich their communities, along with its mission of supporting those with disabilities to live out their goals for meaningful work, relationships and spiritual development were what Hopkins-Garriss said truly resonated with her.
“I love the organization and the people they support and being able to become the director and having that vision and mission be much a part of what we do, that really has spoken to me,” she said. “When I think about what Pleasant View means to me, I think about our vision, which is that our people will live in and enrich the community. I really believe that is what we’ve tried to do.”
But as her 67th birthday approached, Hopkins-Garriss began considering the idea of retiring and decided her last month as executive director will be January 2021.
The decision to retire was a hard one for Hopkins-Garriss, as she said Pleasant View had been a large part of her life, but retiring during the 50th anniversary made it special.
“I think it will be good for me and good timing for the organization to have some new ideas as we go in to the next 50 years,” she said.
As her final days approach, Hopkins-Garriss said what she imagined her last year to be became different due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“A lot of what I have ended up doing this year is helping to come up with our plan on getting through this time period of not doing some of the things we have been doing in terms of being out in the community,” she said.
At Pleasant View, individuals can be a part of three experiences that started during Hopkins-Garriss’ tenure — day support service, residential program service and spiritual support service. Through the day support service, individuals engage in volunteer work, attend worship services and take trips to various businesses, but those services were discontinued since Gov. Ralph Northam’s stay-at-home order was announced in late March.
Hopkins-Garriss has been faced with figuring out how to keep the organizations infrastructure going, while also preparing for a future that can’t be seen.
“I hope we have a post-COVID soon,” she said.
In the meantime, Hopkins-Garriss said she will be helping Pleasant View prepare for when the new executive director steps in and the changes the new director will bring.