Group of youth stand with a volunteer and all are smiling

Empowering Youth

Trifecta, Inc. Teams up with TAP

Each year TAP’s youth programs help dozens of youth to go to college and assist many more to find career paths and join the workforce. In the process, we also help them to develop as people. This past summer we teamed up with Trifecta, Inc., an exciting local organization that works with youth across the state. Trifecta brought youth empowerment programming to TAP’s students and had a lasting impact on the young people in our community.

TAP: What kind of work does Trifecta do in the community?

Natasha Saunders: We curate programming and special events with the intent to develop folks in our community. We are a minority, women-led, youth empowerment organization. Everything we do is with the intent of giving back to the community, whether that’s adopting a classroom or providing scholarships to folks that are going into college, or doing career readiness. We want to pour into our youth and be a bridge and a light in a way that we may not have felt was there when we were growing up in Roanoke.

TAP: What kinds of activities do you do with students, including the TAP students?

Natasha Saunders: We have a curriculum that covers everything from paint parties to vision parties, creating vision boards, doing affirmation activities, and design contests. We do elevator pitches, college readiness, and how to advocate yourself; we do a lot of things that are to holistically develop yourself as a person. We’ve done workshops on the history of Virginia with minority leaders. We’ve had a really fun time designing all these programs. We do design based on need, but we have about 20 workshops that are already ready… We’ve probably done 50 workshops throughout the state of Virginia in just the last nine months.

Students Learn Self-Presentation

TAP: Some of the students in our program at TAP are coming from very hard life circumstances. Can you recall any lightbulb moments? Did you see a change in the TAP youth or see something click for them?

Robyn Mitchell: We had some students who may have not wanted to participate or might have thought a project was not cool. But by the end of it, they had fully engaged and were learning the importance of being collaborative.

We let our students know that everywhere you go, you are a walking brand. How you present yourself in a situation—people will remember that. Even after the [sessions with TAP students] have ended, [we’ve run] into these students in the community at a football game and they come up and say, “How are you doing, Miss Robyn?” They’re not using the slang, they’re presenting themselves as they want to be seen, they’re giving respect and they want to be respected in return.

That was a big moment for me post-program, seeing how one nugget may have stuck with someone to show up and always be a walking brand for yourself… That is an indicator that something may have clicked with the student that we’ve shared with them.

Collaborating to Reach Youth

TAP: Is there anything you think people in the community should know about Trifecta or TAP?

Robyn Mitchell: The community should know these two organizations in their own respective rights are passionate about helping to develop our young people. Both organizations focus on collaboration and how we can work together to improve our communities. One thing we’ve been thinking a lot about lately is how these things we do in our community can break those generational cycles of poverty and how we can set our youth up for success later on; I believe both organizations focus on that goal.

To learn more about Trifecta Inc. or to inquire about a workshop or event, visit or email


Two AA female youth look at a computer in class

A Holistic Approach to Youth Development

We know that exposure to violence makes young people more likely to become violent themselves. So, how can we disrupt that cycle? How do we encourage students down another path? 

As it turns out, meditation helps.

“We had a student from last year who said he would have killed someone if it wasn’t for this class,” said Antonio Stovall. He is the instructor for TAP’s African American Culture and Contemporary Issues class at William Fleming High School. The class builds identity, cultural awareness, and self-empowerment among Black students at Fleming. Meditation and mindfulness techniques play a big role in the class.   

“We are noticing a big difference in how students are interacting with their community, with their classmates,” says Antonio. “They feel more grounded, they have more self-value and self-respect.”

Nature Experiences

TAP pairs this foundation of mindfulness with other experiences that encourage violence-free, productive futures. For example, we get them out into nature.

The students in Antonio’s class and in all of our youth programs often come from households or neighborhoods where they see violence or may even be involved in it. “They deal with a lot of stress, depression, and hardship,” says Antonio. By taking them out of the city to experience nature, “they get an opportunity to detach from their home situation and get back in tune with themselves.”

Brighter Futures

Athletics can also provide a fruitful platform for reaching young people. Recognizing the importance of coaches in the lives of youth, we partner with the coaches in school athletic programs to deliver messages of non-violence and violence prevention.

Djuan Hankins, a longtime basketball coach in the Roanoke community who works with our youth programs, describes how TAP tries to propel students toward a brighter future. “I ask them what their plan is in life, what kind of working career they want, what kind of opportunities they want to be able to provide for themselves after high school,” he says.

Then, TAP helps them get there. College access has long been an important theme in TAP’s youth programs: we provide disadvantaged students with everything from SAT waivers to campus tour trips. Students have described this part of their journey as opening their eyes to college and all the steps on the path to get there.

Summer Programming

Keeping students occupied in the summer with productive pursuits is also an important element of TAP’s holistic strategy. This past summer we offered programming that included fun activities like skating and bowling, as well as daily mindfulness exercises and learning experiences including a STEM workshop from Virginia Tech. Another highlight was a series of four workshops taught by Trifecta, Inc., a youth empowerment organization. These workshops provided opportunities for artistic self-expression, including poetry and painting.

At the end of the summer, the students asked excitedly when TAP’s next activity would be. It’s no wonder that this fall, when classes started at William Fleming, we were overrun with students wanting to take the African American Culture and Contemporary Issues class.

“Now we’re seeing they’re more focused on the [teaching] and not on their phones. They want to learn, engage, and be successful,” says Djuan. “They are learning something that will carry a long ways in life.”

A collection of outcome data from TAPs programs

Annual Report 2020–2021

“I don’t think I could have made it another year like I’d been making it the past 15 years.”

“[TAP] was a tremendous help, and the help has not ceased.”

 “I feel like I am getting my self-confidence back.”

These are the words of TAP clients featured in our most recent annual report. The report details how TAP has opened doors for families and individuals who are working hard to overcome obstacles in their own lives.

At the heart of our work is the goal to help people get out of and stay out of poverty. We offer more than 20 programs in the areas of education, employment, affordable housing, and creating safe and healthy environments for families. The annual report provides a glimpse into these programs and the life-changing results they help people in our community achieve.  

In a typical year, we serve around 5,000 people. Last year was different. Throughout the most uncertain days of the pandemic we kept our doors open, determined to continue serving the most vulnerable among us. When the year was over, we had served close to 9,000 people.

Please enjoy the inspiring stories of a few of the individuals we served among the thousands. Jane bravely sought support in the face of abuse. Kenneth received life-changing help for his dilapidated home. Ann found inner strength to complete her education.

While we celebrate their stories, we are also mindful that their victories didn’t happen in a vacuum. It takes all of us working together to support the work of community action. Thank you for your support.

Supporting Sabrina’s Place

“Sabrina’s Place means a lot to us, because Sabrina Reed’s life was taken suddenly and tragically and she was one of our sorority members,” says Katina Hamlar, president of the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated, Beta Chi Omega Chapter.

“The sorority sisters loved [Sabrina] and felt a great sense of loss. They see [Sabrina’s Place] as a personal opportunity to give back to the community and to honor her legacy in a meaningful way.”

It’s no surprise then that the sorority has been there for the program from the beginning and remains one of its most ardent supporters.

A Personal Touch

Although Sabrina’s Place is the only free supervised visitation and safe exchange center in the western half of Virginia, during recent years funding has been lean. The sorority sisters have found myriad ways to show their support for the program through gestures small and large.

One recent effort was at Christmastime, when the sisters purchased Christmas gifts for the children who benefit from the program. “Last year there was so much happening, and those children are already in a tough situation,” says Katina. “We felt good that we were in a position to bring smiles to their faces at Christmas.”

TAP gave the sorority a list of gift ideas for each child, and the sorority sisters set to work. One little girl loved horses, and the sisters went out of their way to see that she received a gift certificate to a local stable so she could go on a horseback ride.

Remembering Sabrina’s Place during the Holidays

More recently, the sisters have supported the program by delivering snacks for the children and holding a successful water bottle drive. Other efforts have included a toilet paper drive and a Zumba fundraiser. “[The AKAs] have been faithful, and they have been there from the beginning,” says Melody Robinson, program coordinator. “Their consistent involvement is the theme. They have been ideal program supporters.”

A Bigger Picture

Sabrina’s Place remains a much-needed resource in the community, despite recent funding cuts. TAP has seen increased incidents of domestic violence during the pandemic, largely due to the additional stressors on families.

The AKAs have a firm grasp on how dire the situation is. “[People] should know that there are not many places like Sabrina’s Place that are creating safe havens for families to share in the lives of their children without fear of domestic violence or disputes,” says Katina.

“People should also know that there are significant numbers of women and children and even men who are being abused. Those situations can become tragic, but we can help avoid them by creating spaces like Sabrina’s Place where families feel they can be protected.”

If you would like to join the AKAs in supporting Sabrina’s Place, please contact us or make a donation today. You can designate your donation to “domestic violence and family services” and write in the comments “Sabrina’s Place.”

Man smiling at camera outside

Inspiring Others to Give

One local business man is inspiring others to give.

When Bob Fetzer, president of Building Specialists, Inc., heard about our efforts to raise funds during the pandemic, he was struck by our vision during a time of crisis.

He received a call from Annette Lewis, our president and CEO, asking if Building Specialists would continue its financial support of TAP even though we had to cancel our annual in-person fundraiser. Annette shared with Bob our plans to raise $150,000 this year through our Bringing Hope Home campaign. He decided not only to contribute, but to inspire others to give. 

“We’ve been very fortunate that construction was considered essential, [and] despite the pandemic construction was going very well. We asked some of our major teammates, who work with us daily, if they would come together to support [TAP]. Every single subcontractor we approached contributed to the campaign and allowed us to raise over $6,000 for this cause,” says Bob.

Inspiring Others to Give

When he told them about TAP, many of the subcontractors had not previously realized the breadth of TAP’s operations. They were all eager to join in and provide their support. “We leveraged folks in the community who had not given to TAP before and opened their eyes to the benefits of having such an incredible nonprofit organization in our community.”

A Family Tradition

Bob is a longtime supporter of TAP, having served on our board and still serving on one of our many committees.  Giving back to the community is a family tradition for Bob, who hails from Elizabethton, TN. His parents lived through the Great Depression and World War II, and his family’s trajectory was forever changed by the opportunities created by Franklin Delano Roosevelt through the New Deal and particularly the Tennessee Valley Authority, a New Deal initiative. His parents went on to become civic leaders in Elizabethton, and to this day his mother, who is 102, still asks Bob about the contributions he is making to his community.

“Our parents embedded in my siblings and me to give back to the community,” says Bob. “Every day we can make another individual stronger in Roanoke, makes Roanoke stronger for the future… Part of my goal is to inspire others to give and get involved with TAP and their mission and the great things TAP is doing for our community and for our future. It is an organization that gives people hope. It also gives them a springboard for a better life.”

We are grateful to the following companies that Bob Fetzer rallied to support Bringing Hope Home. If you would like to join them in supporting TAP, please visit

Bud Weaver Heating & Air Conditioning, Inc.
Building Specialists, Inc.
Carpet Village
Creative Masonry, Inc.
Gary Russell Construction, LLC
Glavas Decorative Concrete
John T. Morgan Roofing & Sheet Metal Company, Inc.
Keenan Electric Company, Inc.
Layman’s Contracting, Inc.
Premier Painting of Virginia
Nichols Welding Inc.
Responsive Technology Partners

Father and son holding hands

Fathers First Mentoring

Editor’s note: the subject’s name has been changed at his request to protect his privacy.

Mark’s journey to becoming a role model and mentor to other fathers was unconventional. In fact, he only learned of his young daughter after she’d already been placed in foster care.  Upon his discovery, Mark immediately began the uphill battle to gain custody of her. Our Fathers First program was there to help him navigate his newfound parenthood.

“I felt like I was wrestling an octopus because I had all kinds of new constraints on my time and new things to do and I wasn’t getting any guidance from anybody,” Mark recalls. “[Fathers First] gave me some hope and insight and some macro knowledge of what I would be looking at.”

Fathers First Classes

Mark liked that Fathers First parenting classes included people from all walks of life, and that there was a sense of camaraderie in the class. In addition, it helped him that Fathers First didn’t just talk about one age group of children, but covered every aspect and every area of parenting. “The nuts and bolts [about parenting] I’ve been able to cobble together but early on [Fathers First] was really huge for me,” he says.

Mark recalls having a Department of Social Services home inspection during the time he was taking the Fathers First class. “Up to a few hours before they were coming out I was still putting finishing touches on the house. I was going from being a bachelor to a single father and I had never given much thought to decoration. That was really hard to pull that together on top of everything else. [Fathers First] was really good about working with me and understanding that I had a lot of challenges.”

Giving Back

These days, Mark has full custody of his daughter and is busy taking care of her and also giving back by mentoring other fathers. While Fathers First runs classes for the general public, we also run similar classes inside local jails. Mark has volunteered as a pen pal to incarcerated fathers who are enrolled in our jail-based classes and who are eager to become positive influences in their children’s lives. With a master’s degree in creative writing, Mark has always worked on his communication skills and was happy to find a volunteer niche where he could put them to use. Right now he is exchanging letters with three incarcerated fathers.

Mark has found the key to mentoring incarcerated fathers is to be open-minded and non-judgmental. He credits his own broad life experience with helping him to accept incarcerated fathers where they are. Mostly, he finds they feel guilty about missing time from their children’s lives. “I try to encourage them not to focus on that but to focus on what they can do going forward,” he says. “Their children need them and need their input.”

To support Fathers First and the work that we’re doing in the lives of fathers like Mark, please visit and learn about making a financial contribution to TAP or becoming a volunteer.

Supporter - Aldrige Family

Practical Philanthropy – Monthly Giving

David and Nicole Aldridge support TAP with consistent monthly gifts. When asked about why monthly giving works for them, they shared that they practice the principle of giving ten percent, saving ten percent, and living on the rest. Their practical approach of including TAP in their budget each month has paid dividends for the community TAP serves, as their monthly investments have helped us reach thousands of people in the areas of housing, education, employment, and safe and healthy environments.

Paying it Forward

For the Aldridges, personal philanthropy is about investing in organizations that align with their values. The concept of paying it forward resonates deeply with them. “Part of it is recognizing that we are very fortunate to have been very privileged growing up,” explains David. “That privilege has provided us with many opportunities. A lot of people weren’t born with those opportunities [we were given]. There are a lot of structural things about our society where people are set up with disadvantages.” David sees their monthly giving budget as a way to help create opportunities for people who weren’t born with them, or who may have made bad decisions in the past. “TAP will help them work through that and turn the page to a new chapter in life. That’s what we look for [in a charity].”

A sense of urgency also motivates them. “There is a responsibility we have as human beings to do what we can to help each other and to look out for one another. Organizations like TAP and local groups that are trying to take care of people, I think those are more important than they’ve ever been,” says David.

Ordinary People Making an Impact

The Aldridges are a great example of what works when it comes to investing in our community. Sargent Shriver, who was the architect of President Lyndon B. Johnson’s war on poverty, wrote of people who support TAP that “poverty can be overcome, if not entirely, at least very substantially, by ordinary people, using ordinary means, with extraordinary spirit.” The Aldridges have demonstrated how this is true—their monthly giving is a way of exercising a consistent effort that, over time, creates an extraordinary impact.

To join the Aldridges in the practice of monthly giving, please visit and set up a monthly recurring gift through our online giving form

HELP program staff person helping

HELP Finds Dignity and Worth in the Journey from Homelessness

They say that moving is one of the most stressful events in life—but that’s not how Hannah Oakes sees it. From her perspective, it’s a celebratory occasion. On moving day, she’s been known to gather together a few helpers and a truck. She has a housewarming gift ready. Maybe there’s even a pizza involved.

Hannah, TAP HELP program coordinator

Moving day is different for Hannah because she’s helping young men and women who are homeless to move off the streets into permanent housing. Hannah, who works in TAP‘s Homeless Employment and Learning Program (HELP), sees her job as not just about serving clients, but about finding ways to help them experience dignity and worth in the process.

The little touches, like the housewarming gifts packed by Legacy International, “are a way of not just saying ‘here’s your empty apartment,’ but being able to go a step further and make the experience dignified for you,” says Hannah.

Employment First

While moving a client into permanent housing is always a highlight, usually it’s a last step. Hannah works with youth ages 16–24 who are homeless, at risk of becoming homeless, or transitioning out of homelessness. Most of them don’t have support systems, for a variety of reasons: they may have been kicked out of their parents’ houses or aged out of foster care, or be in recovery from addiction at one of the shelters in the area. “We always have to look at it from an employment first perspective and then after we get employment established we look into housing,” Hannah explains.

She spends time each week working with young people on developing résumés and cover letters, and coaching them on the job search and application process. For an additional learning opportunity, Wells Fargo partners with HELP to provide mock interviews. Hannah also teaches weekly life skills classes at partner organizations around the valley. “We always relate the life skills back to jobs,” she says. “We talk about nutrition, how to spend less money on food, what lunches to pack for work, self-care, coping skills, appropriate appearance for work, and budgeting.” The program also helps youth with tangible support for employment, such as paying for work uniforms or interview attire.

HELP Success Stories

The focus on work is paying off. At any given time HELP is working with 70–80 individuals, and typically places more than 60% of these young people into employment. Hannah recalls two individuals who went through mock interviews with Wells Fargo and later landed real interviews with the company. Both of them had come to TAP from other partner organizations in the community that work with homeless individuals. Both needed résumé assistance, help with budgeting, and interview attire. “Both have been there for over a year; we were able to give [Wells Fargo] two really successful employees,” states Hannah proudly.

Respecting Everyone’s Unique Story

Not every success story looks the same. “Some people come into the program and they are really motivated and have all the pieces and just need a little push, or a very specific kind of help,” explains Hannah. “Other times a person is coming in and they’re unsheltered, don’t know where their next meal is coming from, they’re heavily using and they’ve never had a job. Then the program is about really seeing those people each day or each week to help them along with the baby steps of success.”

Hannah recalls a specific youth who came to the program in 2017. He was kicked out of his home at age 16 but managed to graduate from high school despite being homeless for more than two years. At the time that he came to HELP he was sleeping outside, had untreated mental health issues, and was initially hostile. “In the first few months I saw him every day; I took him to the hospital multiple times for suicidal ideations and psychotic breaks,” recalls Hannah. Over time Hannah was able to work with him and gain his trust. Today, he’s permanently housed in an apartment and receives Social Security income, which he supplements with side jobs. For almost two years he hasn’t missed any mental health appointments or bills. He can look back and acknowledge his steps to success and is happy with how far he has come.

Reaching Out

“We’re reaching out to the fringes of the homeless population and allowing them to feel dignity and worth and to access [the help] they don’t know how to gain otherwise” says Hannah. “The ultimate goal regardless of what specific service they receive is to get them at least one step closer to stability.”