Op-Ed: IMAGINE THE VALLEY WITHOUT TAP by Craig Balzer
Originally published in The Roanoke Times on January 13, 2022. Re-posted here with permission.
2022 marks the 57th year of Total Action for Progress’ existence.
During the holiday season, many of us enjoyed the rerun of the Hollywood classic It’s A Wonderful Life, the story of a local banker deterred from suicide by an angel who offers him visions of what life for his friends, family, and community would have been like without his existence.
That made us think: what would life in our area be like without TAP?
Many don’t know how extensive TAP’s work is and might assume there would be little difference in our communities today without its influence. In so many ways, even after 57 years, TAP remains one of the best untold stories in the Roanoke Valley and beyond—a story best known by those whose lives it has impacted.
Think of this: if TAP had not been here for the past 57 years, who would have:
- reached out annually to more than 5,000 low-income people to help them toward self-sufficiency through education and employment, housing, financial services, domestic violence prevention and assistance, and family services?
- Who would have provided a Head Start experience for more than 32,565 children?
- Who would have helped 10,308 youth and adults to secure jobs?
- Who would have provided remedial education opportunities for 7,505 youth and adults who had dropped out of school?
- Who would have filed more than 3,500 tax returns free for low-income Virginians, helping them claim over $2.6 million in Earned-Income Tax Credits, if not for the TAP Tax Clinic?
- Who would have kept over 8,000 families warm through weatherization services?
- Who would have boosted Roanoke’s economy by providing close to 200 entrepreneurs with loans to start new local businesses?
Who would have had the capacity to start Legal Aid, the League of Older Americans (now the Local Office on Aging), RADAR, Southwest Virginia Second Harvest Food Bank (now Feeding Southwest Virginia), Project Discovery, Virginia CARES, and CHIP? Who would have worked with the Northwest Neighborhood Improvement Council to start the Harrison Museum of African American Culture?
More recently, who would have partnered with the Health Department and local neighborhood organizations to host local vaccination clinics, providing first-dose and booster shots to Roanoke citizens right in their neighborhoods? Or partnered with state and local governments to provide more than 1,400 individuals in 450 households with rent relief services when the pandemic affected their income?
Living in this area for most of us is a wonderful life. That wonderful life has in no small way been the result of TAP’s dedication to serving the community throughout the last 57 years.
But we can’t do it alone. Grants serve as the core of TAP’s funding, but there are certain expenses they can’t cover—that’s where you come in. Funds raised through TAP’s annual Bringing Hope Home campaign help fill these gaps and directly support life-changing programs for individuals in this community.