Supporter Spotlight: Sonia Gravely
How One TAP Supporter and Community Advocate Draws from Her Past to Make a Difference Today
It was 2016, and Sabrina’s Place—the only free supervised visitation and safe exchange center in the western half of Virginia—was facing closure. For Sonia Gravely, being the best version of herself means leading the charge to empower others and working toward solutions. When she saw the news, she knew she had to do something.
Taking a Personal Interest in the Matter
Supporting Sabrina’s Place is a doubly important cause for Sonia. She knew Sabrina Reed, the young woman murdered by her estranged husband during a custody exchange, for whom Sabrina’s Place is named. As a domestic violence survivor herself, Sonia considers survivors sharing their stories essential. She says it’s important that people, “can see it’s the person you see every day, your neighbor, regular people, women like myself..”
Making a Difference
When Sonia decided to support Sabrina’s Place, she knew she wanted to do something that both supported the program financially and provided a platform for people affected by domestic violence. As a member of the Missionary Ministry of Hill Street Baptist Church, she was eager to get her church involved. She created the biennial Benefit Concert hosted by Hill Street Baptist Church, which now raises several thousand dollars for Sabrina’s Place at each event and includes participation from 14 other area churches. At each event, an anonymous survivor shares his or her story as a reminder that people around us often carry unseen scars.
As TAP’s Housing and Human Services Director Stacey Sheppard says of Sonia, “Her passion for survivors of domestic and intimate partner violence is what drives her. She takes on planning the Benefit Concert and fills the seats to ensure that we can serve families that need us. Her heart is as big as the voices that sing! She is the kind of person you want in your corner at every event cheering—and planning!”
Being the Change You Want to See
The Benefit Concert isn’t the only way Sonia supports Sabrina’s Place. She also organizes an off-year donation drive, collecting items like toiletries, cleaning supplies, and snacks for the participants’ children. For her, the process isn’t just about doing something—it’s about becoming the kind of person you want to be.
“Knowing the domestic violence scars I have, it helped me make a different decision on who Sonia should be and where Sonia should be. It made me redirect me. That’s why I went back to school,” she says. “That’s what made me want to make mental health for women my focus. I had worked in affordable housing all my life, and that was great, but I knew I could do more.”
Does Sonia’s story sound like you or someone you know? If so, give us a call at 540-777-4673 or explore our website to find a program that inspires you and helps fulfill your vision for a better world.