Dr. Faith R. Pasley Wins the 2023 Cabell Brand Hope Award

The annual Cabell Brand Hope Award, which celebrates outstanding service, leadership, and dedication to fighting poverty, proudly announces its 2023 winner: Dr. Faith R. Pasley, M.D., FAAFP.

Dedication to Healthcare for All

Dr. Pasley embodies the Cabell Brand Hope Award in her work as the Roanoke Rescue Mission’s Volunteer Medical Director at the Fralin Free Clinic. As the only free clinic in the state located on-site at a shelter, the Fralin Free Clinic helps thousands of people experiencing homelessness get the healthcare they need each year. Dr. Pasley’s work provides crucial healthcare and wellness services to people experiencing homelessness. She reviews all patient charts, provides patient care, and actively recruits other physicians and providers.

Holistic Care: For Everyone

Additionally, Dr. Pasley played a key role in developing the newly implemented Medical Street Outreach. The program seeks to decrease the number of unsheltered people living in outdoor camps throughout the Roanoke region. The scale of services the clinic provides is daunting.

In 2022, the Fralin Free Clinic provided 5,370 healthcare and wellness encounters including primary & preventative care, mental & behavioral health services, medication assistance, dentistry, optometry, and patient education. That same year, it provided 3,620 separate patient visits. Rescue Mission CEO Lee Clark estimates that the clinic has served over 12,000 different patients under Dr. Pasley’s leadership.

A Lifetime of Service

Dr. Pasley has guided the work of the Fralin Free Clinic for over 18 years. Her vision and dedication proved critical as the clinic faced the COVID-19 pandemic. Dr. Pasley was honored with the Rescue Misison’s Mission Angel award this past July for her efforts, which allowed the Rescue Mission to continue providing life-saving care 24 hours a day, 7 days a week during the pandemic. 

Her colleagues at the Rescue Mission also note that she is as compassionate in her duties as she is professional, and that her work has provided hope, healing, and empowerment to many people in the region. Dr. Pasley became the first board-certified female family physician in the Roanoke Valley, and from the very beginning, she has dedicated herself to a lifetime of learning, helping, and teaching others.

A Deserved Recognition

Indeed, Dr. Pasley is a source of vital care for low-income people. She is inspiration to her peers. Above all, however, she is a source of hope for our community. We are proud to honor her with the 2023 Cabell Brand Hope Award.

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.


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.


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.”


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.

Help Stop Domestic Violence in Virginia

Written by Stacey Sheppard, director of TAP’s Domestic Violence Services.

Violence is Up Statewide

Sexual and domestic violence advocacy agencies across the Commonwealth conducted a needs assessment in Virginia, with some shocking results. The forthcoming study’s findings for the Roanoke Valley make for no easier reading than the rest of it. As the director of TAP’s Domestic Violence Services program, I know all too well that domestic violence is here in our community. The good news is that together we can help stop it.

As an advocate working in the system described in the study, I feel both incredibly proud to be part of our statewide efforts to keep families safe and certain our communities must continue to help us in this work! The need was high, even before the pandemic. When we join the fight against domestic violence, we’re helping our neighbors, families, friends, and colleagues.

Elevated levels of violence in the past few years are testing the limits of the system statewide. As the report’s interviewers put it, “we could see and feel the cumulative stress/trauma in many of the agencies we visited.” High demand for critical services, burnout among workers, and threadbare funding streams to bolster advocacy programs—all of these and more raised the interviewers’ concerns. Further, these high rates of violence show no signs of slowing down. One advocate I know recently noted seeing “a lot more death than usual.” We are seeing more use of firearms, more untreated addiction, and an escalation in homelessness, food insecurities, and other needs. As one staff TAP DVS staff member put it, “The need and the lift is heavy.”

Doing Our Part to Stop Domestic Violence

At TAP DVS, we find it almost impossible to describe the work our advocates have done in the past few years. Even the term “superhero” comes up short. Our small staff, like everyone, has been navigating personal journeys of fear, anxiety, and confusion about the pandemic, and journeys of loss and grief and figuring out how to attend to their own health needs. They’ve worked tirelessly to find safe places for families to stay. They’ve responded to calls in the middle of the night over and over again, because they know what’s at stake.

They feel the weight of these challenges, but they’re made of stern stuff. Our front-line workers will put their best foot forward every day to save lives.

Among the forces buffeting our small staff have been an unprecedented level of burnout and stress; personal and family COVID-related needs; and the sense that no matter how hard they work, the number of people needing their skills and services is still rising. And the work is relentless, often entailing aiding clients who are in extreme danger. This means that both clients and staff spend hours—sometimes weeks—in a state of high alert. For the staff members who have clung on through these trials, and for the ones who joined the team knowing exactly what the need was, it was nothing short of heroic.

Since the start of COVID, the staff at TAP DVS has:

  • Answered some 2,057 hotline calls
  • Found safe housing for 118 individuals
  • Relocated and additional 49 individuals
  • Provided personalized safety-planning and advocacy to 468 families
  • Facilitated donations of thousands of household items, clothes, and furniture. Every one of these efforts represent a step to help stop domestic violence in our community.

Sharing the Burden

At an agency like TAP, and for a small team like DVS, having partners in this work is essential. Other agencies like the Sexual Assault Response & Advocacy (SARA) program, Family Service of Roanoke Valley, and many others help ease the burden. But they, too, are feeling the same effects of being overburdened and exhausted. Law enforcement and hospital emergency departments also respond to domestic and sexual violence 24/7 and still have to perform their work with fluctuating levels of COVID-19. They, too, also face high rates of violence.

As an advocate, I can recognize the signs of the stress and trauma described in the state assessment throughout the whole system. As the director and colleague of these incredible warriors in a daily battle for peace, I could not be prouder to walk beside them.

To Do the Work, We Need Your Help, Too

Not everyone has the experience, the emotional inclination, and the training to get right on the front lines and do domestic and sexual violence advocacy. Even without those things, you can get involved—and make a big difference.

The families we’re serving have often fled violent homes, and they need basic things that we can’t always provide. From diapers and formula, to groceries, new work attire, school supplies, and furniture for new apartments, our families are so often starting over with nothing.

We’re relocating more families than ever before, which means local donations give my staff the ability to answer questions with, “don’t worry about that part—you focus on staying safe, and taking care of your family, and we will take care of the details.” This is true here at TAP-DVS, and it’s also true of our partners. There are more families in need than before, and when they make brave choices to start new, violence-free lives, the concrete support we provide helps them keep going in tough moments. These things are small, but they help stop domestic violence by keeping a family in a safe situation.

Domestic violence is all around us, and it’s often so well-hidden we don’t recognize it until it’s gotten out-of-hand. But each time we make a safety plan or relocate a family, we help stop domestic violence in one more family.

This October, Help Stop Domestic Violence

If you have an opportunity this October, thank an advocate—they have saved a life, and in some cases, they’ve saved hundreds of lives. And they might have helped someone you know—someone you work with, live next to, are even related to.

If you want to do more and don’t know where to start, please consider making a donation to TAP-DVS. Or to one of our partners (they’re facing the same needs, too!). Consider helping out as a volunteer. Organize a fundraiser: get church groups, parent groups, even weekly poker games to contribute this month. Write editorials. Talk to your friends and neighbors. All of it helps. Whatever feels right, please consider doing something more this month.

Together we can use the month of October as an opportunity to step it up across the whole region. We can impact so many families when we work collectively. We do this work because it’s not just the right thing to do, but because it feels good to take a stand against violence.

On behalf of TAP Domestic Violence Services, the staff, and on behalf of survivors, we need your help. This October, take a stand with us.

-Stacey Sheppard, Director of TAP Housing and Human Services, October 2022

Mentoring Can Make the Difference

Some of Fred Rogers’ most well-known advice for young kids is to “look for the helpers” when they feel overwhelmed. And these days, after the turmoil and social disconnection of the last several years, kids can’t have enough helpers to turn to. If you’d like to become a helper in your community, now is the perfect time to start, as TAP is recruiting mentors for our youth programs. Mentoring young people is one of the easiest ways to get involved—and make a big difference.


The risks can be high for young people coming of age in the current environment. The City of Roanoke Gun Violence Prevention Commission recently published the “Roanoke Youth and Gang Violence Community Assessment – Final Report.” The findings suggest a climate of unease and show a shared sense that violence is rising.

Digging into the assessment is revealing. Although a low number of youth/student respondents indicated they are in gangs, those who are cited social motivations as reasons for joining. Other commonly cited reasons were “to make money,” “for protection,” and “for fun.” As the assessment notes on page nine, “Gang culture for these participants provides both emotional and material fulfillment.” Knowing this, we must envision non-violent ways to offer young people the same kinds of connections for social support, fun activities, and avenues to good jobs.

And the youth themselves said as much. When asked what they thought was the best way to prevent violence and gang activity, their top responses were “more jobs for young people,” “more activities for youth to do after school,” and “free individual counseling at schools or community agencies.” Interestingly, both community members and community leaders cited mentoring as one of their top solutions to reduce gang problems in the community. In fact, it was the most common solution cited after “increased parenting time,” and “more jobs for young people.”


Our Housing and Human Services component supports people who have experienced trauma, including many types of violence. Working with trauma survivors, we’ve learned that one-on-one mentoring and group mentoring can be huge assets when people want to change their lives. We know mentoring can’t replace parents or create jobs out of thin air. However, it increases social connections and expands support networks, which can help youth emotionally, developmentally, and professionally. Nicole Ross, TAP’s family mentor coordinator, has worked in the mentoring field since 2011. In her experience, a mentor “can give young people the support they’re lacking” at a critical moment. This is true no matter the focus of the activity.

When asked what makes a good mentor, Ms. Nicole—as the kids call her—is quick to point out that it’s not professional skills or expertise that makes a good mentor. “First thing is a passion for young people—to step into their life and make a difference. You need to be a good listener and have patience,” she says. “But most of all, just having a good spirit.” She says showing up consistently is one of the most important traits a mentor can have.


If you think you might make a good mentor, please consider sharing your time with the community. We’re recruiting group mentors for our summer activities, which range from arts and crafts sessions to STEM activities and beyond.

“If you can commit to spending quality time, and follow through, you’ll make a great mentor,” Ms. Nicole says.

You can make a difference in your community, and in the lives of your young neighbors. We can help you take the next step. To learn more, donate time, or help fund activities, contact Nicole Ross at 540.354.2212 or Nicole.ross@nulltapintohope.org.

Supervised Visitation Helps Kids Grow

Edward is passionate and outspoken about parenting. When he talks about his son, his face brightens and the love he has for his son is clear. There is also an unmistakable determination in how he talks about being a part of his son’s life—something he almost missed out on completely.

Instead, Sabrina’ Place gives parents a chance to show up. What Edward did with that chance was incredible. He used the supervised visitation and safe exchange services Sabrina’s Place offers as a place to start.

Edward’s son was born in 2018, but he and his son’s mother didn’t stay together.

By 2019 their relationship had become strained. She suggested that she would pursue full custody of their child, which could have meant Edward might not see his son again. The two went to court to settle the question of custody and visitation rights. There was, at that point, a very real chance that Edward would be cut out of his son’s life entirely.

The court suggested the option of supervised visitation while the custody process played out. Initially, the court ordered up to 24 hours a year of supervised visitation for Edward and suggested several supervised visitation programs. Sabrina’s Place was the only free program on the list, so Edward called and scheduled his first visit.

Somewhere to Start

Visitation is just the beginning, of course. It’s not the same as having time at home or taking your kid to the park.

It wasn’t as much time as Edward wanted. But, as he says, “It was a start. And Sabrina’s Place laid the foundation to let me go from 24 hours each year to where I am now, having custody every other weekend.”

Sabrina’s Place is, first and foremost, about safety. Edward appreciated that Sabrina’s Place takes some of the pressures off the visits, knowing that visits will be safe and free of any kind of confrontation. Parents don’t even have to negotiate the rules of the visit—the program takes on a lot of the logistical work. Sabrina’s Place allowed Edward to relax and focus on building a healthy relationship with his kid. “It’s the perfect place to start for any parent if you want to be in your kid’s life…it’s also a safe environment to focus on your child,” he says.

Being There and Being Part of Their Life

When asked about parenting in general, Edward is quick to point out two elements that he views as necessary. “First you need to show up,” he says. But he also believes that “you need to play your role—to be a parent.” Looking back at his first few years of fatherhood, he says, “I’m learning your child will always love you if you play your part. They’ll know their Daddy was there.” The national Supervised Visitation Network agrees. They suggest that “unless special circumstances exist, children generally fare best when they have the emotional and financial support and ongoing involvement of both parents.” Edward was ready to play the part fully, and Sabrina’s Place opened the door for him and his son to have that important relationship.

Melody Robinson, Sabrina’s Place Coordinator, says that Edward is a great example of what the program is there to do. She also acknowledges that the court process is complicated. Discouraged parents can stop trying to be part of their kids’ lives. “It was a big mountain Edward had to climb,” she says. “And he did it.”

“You gotta start somewhere,” Edward says. “And you can’t give up. You can’t force families to stay together, but you can put in the effort to be in your kid’s life.” Sabrina’s Place is there to help parents do just that, and take some of the uncertainty out of the process. This way, parents like Edward can focus on the most important part of their lives—their children.

It’s Never Too Late to Start Living

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

In this month, we remember those we lost to domestic violence, and we think of the work we need to do to save the next survivors. For many of people, October is a time to reflect on what’s at stake when people decide to leave violent situations, and all the good that can happen when we provide support to people attempting to leave dangerous relationships. It’s also a great time to remind ourselves that it’s never too late to leave a toxic relationship—and it’s never too late to start living your best life.   

It’s Not Too Late: Making a Change at 70

Lily is now in her 70s. She only recently left her marriage after 53 years. For 35 of those years, she was physically and sexually abused by her husband. Lily’s abuser didn’t want her working, and he let her know it. To him, her being away from his control or even having her own money was a challenge and a threat. He would often show up at her job and simply stare at her, trying whatever he could to provoke a reaction. His constant visits and intimidation eventually caused enough trouble that Lily was fired—she was seen as being unprofessional.

Lily’s abuser would turn every part of her day into an opportunity to exert more power over her. As the violence escalated, Lily knew she had to try something. She pressed charges against him after a particularly violent outburst, but he was able to get the charges reduced. Even after escaping criminal charges, he would threaten and physically intimidate her, withhold food, and even refuse to speak to her—all to reinforce his control over every aspect of her life.

Making the Change a Reality

It was decades in the making, but once Lily felt confident enough to leave, things happened quickly. She contacted TAP Domestic Violence Services (DVS) and within a month she was in a studio apartment of her own. She faced a dizzying list of challenges, from safely getting her belongings from her abuser who was still trying to intimidate her, to needing to find a new bed frame and mattress so she didn’t have to sleep in a recliner. DVS provided many donated items to help turn her new, empty apartment into her home. She now describes her life as “peaceful, not being controlled or living in oppression,” and says she feels “free in spirit.”

Leaving a violent relationship safely and beginning to heal takes a true support network. In Lily’s case, the speed with which she left needed a number of things in place to work. Lily’s bravery and decisiveness were the key ingredients. They were a product of TAP being able to connect her immediately with resources that made that quick transition possible. Donated furniture and household goods were also key: DVS was able to immediately provide furniture. That meant Lily didn’t move into what felt like an empty cell, but a new home.

Making the Difference

DVS staff also worked hard to make sure Lily had a plan. They worked on developing and constantly updating her safety plan, finding a new job, and getting her finances in order. Without that support, these tasks would have seemed impossible. There are so many ways the community can help make the choice to leave safer and less intimidating for survivors. From donated household goods, to volunteer therapists who provide sessions to clients for free, to community fundraisers, the work DVS staff do with survivors depends on the whole community.

Meanwhile, Lily has found that with a little help and the passing of time, life starts to feel normal again. That’s why the staff of TAP Domestic Violence Services come to work every day. They want to be part of that journey. They want to support each step, and witness the strength, growth, determination, and hope that survivors show along the way.

This year, we challenge you to find a way to support survivors of domestic violence and their families—whether it’s through raising awareness, donating money, new or gently used household goods, or connecting people to resources, we hope you’ll join us in trying to make a difference.

If You Need Help

TAP Domestic Violence Services helps those suffering from abuse. If your intimate partner is abusive to you, your children, or someone else in the household, or if someone you know is being abused, we can help with the following:

  • Emergency assistance and emergency transportation
  • Emergency relocation assistance
  • 24/7 Emergency Hotline
  • Crisis intervention
  • Legal advocacy
  • Court preparation and accompaniment
  • Support group
  • Education and outreach programs for the community

Call or text (540) 580‑0775. A crisis advocate is available evenings, nights, weekends, and holidays at the emergency number.

Our daytime telephone number is (540) 283‑4813.

Hearing-impaired persons can contact us using Virginia Relay. Just dial 7-1-1 and give the Virginia Relay Communications Assistant the number you need to reach.

Homebuying in Clifton Forge for a Good Cause

With the housing market continuing to soar to new heights, the cost of purchasing a home has become incredibly daunting. In Clifton Forge, however, TAP has a golden opportunity for first-time homebuyers that won’t last long.

This beautiful three-bedroom home is located within walking distance of Clifton Forge’s beautiful and historic downtown. The newly-renovated property at 421 Keswick Street in Clifton Forge is available for purchase by low- to moderate-income buyers. Recent upgrades include the front and back porches, kitchen, and bathroom plumbing, as well as touch-ups throughout. The property is listed for $87,000.

This is a great opportunity for families looking for a beautiful, safe, and affordable place to call home. Special financing is available through Virginia Housing’s SPARC program, which offers a 1% reduction on interest rates.

Click here to see more of the house.

This property was purchased and renovated using funding provided through the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD). Any proceeds from the sale will go right back to DHCD, helping more Virginians find and stay in decent housing.

Free first-time homebuyer class on August 28 in Covington

Monty Bowman of Highlands Realty and Associates will host an open house at the property on Saturday, August 28. The same day, TAP Housing Counseling will host a free first-time homebuyer class. It will take place just down the road at the TAP office (118 S. Lexington Ave., Covington, VA 24426) from noon to 1:00 p.m.

Making the dream of homeownership a reality

Buying a home can seem complicated, or even out of reach for many families. In the current climate of high housing prices and economic uncertainty, it’s hard to know where to start. However, TAP hopes that the first-time homebuyer class, we hope we can help you make a confident choice about whether homeownership is right for you. And because the proceeds will fund future housing supports through DCHD, the sale will help other families.

Whoever purchases the 421 Keswick Street property won’t just be taking part in that same dream—they’ll play a small part in helping someone else live the dream too.

Help Keep Kids Safe with Supervised Visitation

Rising Need

In a time of rising domestic violence rates, we need to give at-risk families safe options. Sabrina’s Place provides secure supervised visitation and safe exchange services. It is one of the safest ways to prevent known abusers from committing violent acts during custody exchanges.

As lockdowns started, domestic violence advocates were on high alert. Experts speculated that survivors and their families may be forced into closer quarters with their abusers. The forced close quarters did lead to rising tensions and potentially deadly results. In October of 2020, WSLS reported, “A rise in domestic violence in the Star City means one nonprofit is working around the clock to provide survivors with a safe place to access resources.

It’s the only supervised visitation center in the area. Sabrina’s Place is a program [run] by Total Action for Progress out of Roanoke. It is a safe haven for families struggling with domestic issues to spend time together.”

Limited Supervised Visitation Services

Since then, the need has continued to rise, with Sabrina’s Place’s wait list growing longer while resources grew thinner. The program’s inability to serve every family in need is more than just a matter of inconvenience. It leaves families vulnerable to abuse.

When families aren’t able to access services at Sabrina’s Place, they have to take risks. They can end up in dangerous situations because of that. They may be have to rely on meeting in public places or in the presence of untrained friends and family to stay safe.

The program needs community support to address the heightened need. Since 2016 when the federal program that funded Sabrina’s Place ended (as reported by WDBJ 7), TAP has conducted annual fundraising events and campaigns to supplement the state and local resources that comprise its budget. In 2020, however, Sabrina’s Place wasn’t able to hold its main annual fundraiser due to the pandemic.

While Sabrina’s Place has done its best to keep costs low, the program simply can’t skimp on safety. It takes a secure facility that has separate parking spots, entrances, and waiting areas for each parent, as well as well-placed locking doors and cameras, trained monitors, and off-duty police to make sure situations don’t develop into violence. These elements work together to create an environment parents and children alike can feel safe in.

What A Local Dollar Can Do

The good news is that if we can raise more funds from the community this year, we can provide more supervised visits and safe exchances to the families who need them. Sabrina’s Place will have the capacity to serve more families—and do so safely. In fact, donations can directly provide extra visits and exchanges on a per-visit basis.

It costs about $202 to provide a visit or exchange safely. If you or your friends, family, church, or workplace can, please consider providing a one-time or recurring donation to help Sabrina’s Place provide additional visits and exchanges.

The stakes are high—investing in the secure facility and trained experts of Sabrina’s Place is one of the best ways to keep otherwise dangerous situations from becoming a grisly headline tomorrow. Can we count on you to help?

To donate, please visit https://tapintohope.org/support-us/donate and don’t forget to write a note that you wish for your donation to support Sabrina’s Place!


Seizing the Future—One Woman’s Journey to Recovery

Even small dreams can feel out of reach when we grow up without seeing others able to attain them. That dynamic makes recovery from substance addiction seem almost impossible.

Recovery is difficult even at the best of times. For children raised in homes struggling with addiction, a life without substance use—and the possibilities that come with such a life—can seem laughable. For Alisha Smith, her success now would have seemed laughable or even downright strange at one point in her life. As she puts it, “I grew up in a home where addiction was the norm and everyone else was just strange if they didn’t live like us.”

Learning The Hard Way

Alisha had to figure out a great deal for herself from a very young age. “My father left when I was about one year old,” she says. “My mother overdosed and passed away when I was 11.” She says that despite these traumas, she still looked for ways to feel normal and stay upbeat. “I started to cheerlead and that pretty much occupied my mind and body in a positive way,” she says. However, drinking—a common pitfall of teenage life—also became a way for Alisha to occupy her time. “I discovered I liked alcohol at age 16 but didn’t start heavily drinking until I was about 18,” she remembers.

“When I was 16, I drove to Tennessee, where my father was incarcerated,” she says. “He made empty promises that he was coming back to Roanoke. He did, in fact, come back—and brought a whole family with him.” Alisha says that her father eventually “became my party buddy and partner in crime.”

School became less engaging for Alisha. “I stopped trying in school and I lost my spot on the cheerleading squad,” she says. “At age 20, I met the father of my child and started using intravenously. I was in and out of trouble, and locked up in jails for about four years, off and on.”

The Road to Recovery Isn’t a Straight Line

It was during one of these stays in jail that Alisha began to plan for a life without substance use. “When I was released this time, I knew I wanted to find recovery,” she says. She remembers that, at the time, “My daughter was with my cousin and I wanted her back.” That was a powerful motivator. “I did stay clean for almost two years but relapsed on alcohol,” she says.

She remembers that first relapse well. “I relapsed on alcohol on a Sunday and that Friday I caught a gun charge because the guy I was dating at the time brought it along, shot it near my face, before he passed out drunk. I moved the gun for safety reasons but it was still in the possession of a felon—myself,” she recalls.

Alisha says that it felt like she “hit an all-time low…and I was back using for a year and a half.” She says that from that moment, things continued to spiral downward. “In that year and a half, I overdosed multiple times. I finally violated my probation and they sent me to Botetourt Jail,” she says. With her life reaching a critical moment, she once again made the decision to take back control and make big changes.

“I was in there for three months but it felt like an eternity,” she says. “In that time, it took me over a month to detox and feel like a human being again and then I was able to connect with my friends from Narcotics Anonymous.”

Making the Change Stick For Good

Staying clean, however, was going to take grit and determination because life still wasn’t done throwing challenges at Alisha. “When I was released, I decided I needed to swallow my pride and accept any help that came my way,” she says.

“I was still working this whole time to see my daughter and in December of 2019 they terminated my rights and awarded my cousin the right to adopt her. I had over a year clean and that didn’t matter.”

Despite the disappointment, this was a huge moment of triumph for Alisha’s recovery. She recalls feeling “completely defeated,” but she stayed strong and didn’t use. “Instead,” she says, “I got stronger.” She then heard about the TAP RESTORE program, which helps women in recovery to build skills and supports them as they pursue new employment opportunities or careers.

Turning the Corner

As Alisha got to know the program staff, she knew right away that she could use the tools the program had provided to keep building on her momentum. “I met with [RESTORE case manager] Kimberly once and we talked and I knew right then that the program could benefit me and that she truly wanted to help,” she recalls. The more Alisha shared about her life experiences, the better the program staff were able to customize the program tools. She told Kimberly about her dream of working in a recovery environment and Kimberly connected her to a local and free Peer Recovery Specialist training. “Throughout that training, which was two weeks long, Kimberly bought supplies for my classes. She gave me gift cards for gas to get to whatever job I was working. The program gave me a gift card for clothes to start new jobs. I wouldn’t have gotten through those hard times without that help.”

Building Blocks of Success

Alisha was able to translate that help and that early momentum into continued success in recovery and in her career. “Today I am a residential aide at Pinnacle Treatment Services,” she says. “I adore my job and the staff that surrounds me. I have a great relationship with my daughter and even though I do not have her, we are seeing each other and that’s enough for me at this point in time.”

The biggest change in Alisha hasn’t been her recovery, or her material situation, so much as it has been her developing a powerful inner strength and resilience—which helps her stay strong on good days and on bad days alike. She says, “People—us addicts—think that when we get clean that we get all the things that life has to offer. We feel like we should get the car, the license, the husband, the kids back, the perfect job, and that all will be right in the world again. Sometimes that is true and sometimes it is not.”

Bright Future

Alisha is looking forward to a new career helping other people in recovery. She says, “Since I work in a peer-centered field, I can now get certified. I look forward to sending other people like myself in Kimberly’s direction. I’m looking forward to marriage and a bigger house. Those are things I never in my wildest dreams imagined. They weren’t possible until now.”

Alisha’s story can teach us so many things: it reminds us that there is always a way back up from rock bottom; it reminds us not to take the people and the opportunities in our lives for granted; and it inspires us to keep looking for chances to make positive changes in our own lives and communities.

Programs like RESTORE can be the catalyst, but big change comes from people deciding to push themselves forward. It takes time. It takes patience. But, most of all, it takes the ability to envision a better future—and believe in it enough to act on it.

Two adults sitting on a curb

Trust and Transformation – One Survivor’s Story

In a pandemic, the safest place is at home—except if you live with an abuser. But even the COVID-19 pandemic hasn’t stopped people who live with domestic violence making the brave choice to leave and ensure bright, violence-free futures for their families. At TAP Domestic Violence Services, our staff use their experience to help survivors relearn how to build trusting relationships.  Although the pandemic has presented us with new challenges, we keep showing up at work each day because survivors have already made the choice to change their lives and the trust they show in us is a two-way street.

“I Want Better for My Son”

One survivor, who we will call Elizabeth, describes how her transformation started with the conviction that she needed to make changes for her son: “I was in an abusive relationship. I was pregnant and my mental health was suffering from the abuse. I wanted something better for my unborn child and I knew that if I didn’t make changes I was going to end up dead or in jail, or that my abuser was going to end up dead.”

She says, “I want better for my son. I don’t want him experiencing the trauma I went through having an absent father and a drug-addicted mother.”

How TAP Helped

Elizabeth worked with TAP to make the first leap of faith. She left her home and most of her belongings behind. “TAP DVS has provided me with tools and resources. Without them, I wouldn’t have anything. TAP DVS helped me relocate and furnish an empty apartment, bought diapers and clothes for my son, continues to provide me with bus passes, counseling, a support network, and a safe environment.”

She was just getting used to her new surroundings when the COVID-19 pandemic and the lockdown began.

She still worries about it. “COVID-19 scares me because I have some serious health issues,” she says. “I’m also scared for my son because he was born premature,” she says. Her life during the pandemic also has other gnawing stresses that creep up more slowly.  “My mental health has also been affected,” she says. “I miss human interaction.”

Building Trust

Meeting clients face-to-face during the pandemic may have seemed like a risk, but it was important to secure PPE and find places safe enough to meet with clients. The work TAP DVS does is a partnership—not a prescription.

We work with our clients to support their goals, so building a sense of trust is critical to the success of the program—and the long-term success of our clients. Whenever Elizabeth was in public, it felt like strangers posed a danger. Whether on the bus or in her apartment complex, she felt that, “The only people I feel comfortable being around right now are my DVS case worker, my mental health case worker, and my SwiftStart case worker.”

Beyond Crisis Care

Working with the DVS staff also helped reverse some of the damage that came from growing up in a home with substance addiction and living with an abusive partner. Though she left her relationship, she still felt as though she was under her old abuser’s toxic spell. “My abuser would tell me every day I was stupid and that I was going to end up just like my mother—a junkie,” she explains.

Elizabeth says that working with DVS, “helped me change that [toxic] thought process, and helped me realize my abuser was telling me lies.” She says that a big part of that came from the honesty and human connection the program provides. “My DVS case worker was open and honest with her own struggles with alcohol and her recovery from addiction, which has helped me believe in myself to stop using drugs,” Elizabeth says.  

The connection with staff started right away. “The first day I showed up at their office I was very hesitant on providing them with any information. They didn’t pressure me, they worked to gain my trust and have been there every step of the way,” Elizabeth says. She points out that, “the people who work at DVS have been in your shoes, and they will help you recover and learn to love yourself again.”

You Are Not Alone

Working with them, she says, can “help you realize you are not alone, and that there are resources out there to help you get out!” Even beyond providing the basic necessities that make an escape from a domestic violence situation possible, she says that working with DVS staff fostered trust, and eventually confidence in herself and her ability to be a great mother to her son. “TAP DVS has helped me feel more confident in myself and helped me love myself again. They helped me be a better mother. I didn’t have strong role models on how to be a parent and because of DVS I was able to take a parenting class.”

Now, Elizabeth is “looking forward to starting the Certified Nursing Assistant program through TAP, to being financially stable.” She is also looking forward to “being in a safe, nontoxic relationship,” when the COVID-19 pandemic has subsided.

Donors Help Make This Possible

The work DVS does relies on survivors making brave choices to leave, to trust, and to change. That’s why the support you can give them doesn’t just help turn one life around—it has huge effects on the next generation, too. As Elizabeth pointed out, the important things that keep you motivated to improve your own life often aren’t just about you. As she said, having come from a traumatic home, “I am looking forward to watching my son grow up in a healthy and stable home.”

Domestic violence survivors
Father helps child with homework on laptop

5 Tips for Parenting In Quarantine

Postive Parenting in Quarantine

Parenting is hard. Period.

It’s a marathon, not a sprint, and each step takes guts and determination—and a good plan. To be a positive role-model for your family means being your best self consistently, supporting others, and being patient, loving, and encouraging. We all need a little help so we’ve gathered five tips for parenting in quarantine.

Doing it all gracefully in the middle of the shelter-in-place orders issued in response to the spread of COVID-19 has highlighted how the task can sometimes seem impossible.

Indeed, when you’re stressed out, tired, and facing uncertainty in what seems like every direction, being that calm, patient, centering force for your growing kids isn’t just tough—it can be downright daunting.

5 Tips for Parenting In Quarantine

TAP’s Fathers First program staff members Lateefah Trent and Ed Hrinya shared their tips for how to make the best of parenting in quarantine and what things to focus on when you feel overwhelmed. Here’s their advice based on parenting lessons they’ve learned in helping hundreds of fathers over the years.

1. No Parent is Perfect

Start by reminding yourself that this is hard! A big lesson Lateefah and Ed’s work has taught them is to start where you are.

“No emotion is good or bad, positive or negative. It’s normal to feel angry, jealous, sad, frustrated, etc.” they say. “But emotions are energy. And how you express that energy can be good or bad, positive or negative.”

“When you recognize that these things are just part of being human,” Lateefah and Ed explain, “it is easier to deal with them in healthier ways.”

2. Building Good Momentum

While a global pandemic isn’t something individual parents can do much to change, they can help set the tone for the whole household by modeling behaviors that show kids how to deal with stress in an appropriate way.

Firstly, it starts with asking for help when you need it. “It’s okay to not be okay,” Lateefah and Ed urge parents to remember. “This is a stressful time for all of us. Don’t feel like you have to be Superdad or Supermom—just focus on taking care of yourself and your children, and trust that the crisis, like all storms, will blow over eventually.”

3. Looking for Little Things

However, sometimes little things have a big impact on your state of mind. For example, setting a routine helps make sure the big things get done at work or at home and makes life feels more normal. Sometimes this means showering and putting on real clothes. Sometimes it means making sure to sleep enough. Remembering to make healthy choices can also have a huge impact on your mental and physical health—and your energy to deal with chaos and crisis.

Reading, writing, or even watching a movie can help your brain rest and reset. Taking breaks where you can is part of being rested enough to be a great parent. Remembering to reward and praise your children when they do something well can also be a great reminder to reward and praise yourself.

4. What if We’re Stuck at Home?

No two ways about it, feeling stuck might come from staying inside too long—but it becomes a state of mind as much as it does a physical limitation. To change up the way things feel, even a small twist on a normal activity can make a big difference.

Movie nights feel a little more like the theater if you make a special snack. Making dinner can be a cooking contest. Books can be family activities if you read out loud together. It’s also a great time of year for gardening, tea time picnics, or just for being outside together.

5. Remembering What It’s All About

The staff at Fathers First mostly focus their work on helping fathers. However, the approach they take is based on the fundamental dynamics that all families need to thrive. It’s important we stay in touch with those fundamentals because of what’s at stake.

Above all, the important thing that parents can do is set the right example—especially when it comes to showing children we can deal effectively with stress and be resilient in the face of traumatic events. As Lateefah and Ed point out, “Children often do not have the experience or coping skills to do so. We as parents must model resilience in our lives so that our children can learn to do the same.”

You can make a huge difference too.

Fathers First creates a comfortable environment for men and women to learn communication and parenting skills while working on improving their overall self-worth and relationships. If you think you could help fathers or father-figures, or just want to be part of supporting parents, get involved—call (540) 777-4673.

Sonia Gravely

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.

TAP’s Housing and Human Services Director 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.