Our History

Ron Clark, RAP Founder

RAP co-founder, Ron Clark, arrived in Washington in 1970 at the invitation of two priests who thought the city wasn’t doing enough to care for the surging number of residents suffering – and dying – from heroin addiction. Ron was, himself, a recovering heroin addict, who had become a counselor and dedicated his life to helping those struggling with substance use disorders.

RAP opened its doors in June 1970 at 1904 T Street, N.W. Over the next 44 years, Ron built an always-growing and evolving community institution, responding to the ever-changing needs of those we serve. He showed thousands of people a path forward to a healthy, connected lives without drugs, one in which each person could stand and take his or her rightful place in their homes and neighborhoods. 

Ron pioneered the idea of a more holistic approach to addiction treatment by combining rigorous therapeutic interventions with an awareness of the issues that racism caused for many of RAP’s patients. He brought jazz musicians, Black poets, artists and scholars to the program. He believed that emotional wellness and good physical health were essential for a successful recovery. He insisted that everyone be able to read and used the works of Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcom X and Maya Angelou to teach those who had difficulty.

RAP was the leader in early HIV services, opening the first housing programs at a time when clinics, hospitals and even families turned away those sick and dying of AIDS.  The program grew to provide specialized medical care and casement management to persons living with HIV. 

Ron retired in 2014 due to failing health and transitioned 14 May 2019.

Today, RAP operates a withdrawal management (detox) and residential & outpatient treatment programs across four sites at its Eckington campus in Northeast Washington

The 80-member interdisciplinary team of doctors; advanced practice nurses; licensed social workers & counselors; and peers treat more than 1,300 patients each year.

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