How Jessi and Charles Make a Difference
At times, it can feel impossible to make a difference in your own life. And it can often feel even harder to change someone else’s life. Jessi and Charles St. Clair are a great example of how big a difference we can make. They show a little hope and a lot of determination can start a chain reaction.
When talking to them, it doesn’t take long to understand that their support of TAP comes from somewhere deep. Having struggled and succeeded in their own lives means they know what’s at stake. When they talk about giving, isn’t a performance or a gesture toward what they think they ought to be doing. They see supporting TAP’s programs as a chance to invest in part of an even bigger system of supports that makes a huge difference. Charles and Jessi know firsthand the good that comes from believing in people and investing in communities. At TAP, we know we’re very lucky to be their partners in community change.
WALKING THE WALK
TAP exists because people from southwest Virginia cared about making life better—for themselves and their neighbors. The interconnected nature of a small region like ours wasn’t lost on Cabell Brand. He founded TAP in 1965 believing that the fates of both affluent people and those struggling were not merely intertwined, but separated by fewer degrees than often suggested.
In short, Cabell saw that it’s our duty as citizens to fight for the opportunities our less fortunate brothers and sisters deserve. Jessi and Charles are two supporters who don’t just believe this idea, they act on it.
BEING THE CHANGE YOU WANT TO SEE
Before Jessi and Charles opened their own business, Affordable and Dependable Auto Services, Jessi worked at ARCH Services advocating for unhoused people. She took on that work with particular passion and dedication she attributes to the fact that she has experienced homelessness herself. “I’m passionate because of living it,” she says.
During her time as an advocate, Jessi learned that it’s common for people to lament the problems they see—whether it’s rising crime, homelessness, or even just a sense of hopelessness. It is a little less common for people to support the organizations working to solve them. She shakes her head as she says, “Lots of times those organizations don’t get all the attention—but they always have a need.”
Like Jessi, Charles also experienced homelessness. He worked hard to get where he is, and he’s every bit as candid about his experience as you would expect a good mechanic to be. He’s quick to emphasize that it’s a system that—like an engine—takes serious input and energy to work. Now with a successful business, he and Jessi want to contribute to the system that helped them turn things around. As Charles puts it, “The system has given me a lot. So, when I can take some kind of action…it feels good to give back.”
ROLLING UP THEIR SLEEVES TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE
When asked why they chose to support TAP, Charles is quick to answer. He says, “It’s such a wide-ranging organization—whether it’s helping with school supplies, domestic violence, homelessness, people re-entering society from incarceration.” Jessi and Charles know what it takes to bounce back from a setback. They know the guts a person needs to look failure in the eye and come back stronger. They also know that a little help can make all the difference.
Listening to them speak about the hope and determination they feel when doing their part to make a difference isn’t just inspiring to us here at TAP. It’s the lifeblood of what we do. Whenever the world feels exhausting and overwhelming, a talk with Jessi and Charles is exactly what the doctor ordered. They’re as clear-eyed as any about how big the need is out there, and how it feels when you’re struggling. And they’re ready to be the change they want to see in their community.
At TAP, we’re not just honored to have their support. We’re inspired by it. Folks like Jessi and Charles are a source of hope and determination to us here at TAP. They challenge us in the best possible way to live up to our mission.
We hope you will consider joining Jessi and Charles in supporting TAP if you haven’t already, and make a difference of your own.