Supporter Spotlight: Larry Davidson and Janice Dinkins-Davidson

Larry Davidson and Janice Dinkins-Davidson are a dynamic husband-and-wife duo with a shared drive to make deep connections and lasting impact in the community. Each is woven deeply into the fabric of Roanoke in a distinct and unique way. Janice is the executive director of Children’s Advocacy Centers of Virginia (CACVA), a Roanoke-based statewide child abuse intervention organization; Larry is the owner and president of Davidsons, a men’s clothier.

“It’s in my DNA”

Larry’s grandfather, Joe, established Davidsons in 1910 in the heart of downtown Roanoke. According to Davidsons’ website, Joe believed that “customers were community” and he emphasized relationships over sales. Joe’s approach, the website goes on to say, “was a natural result of his bedrock conviction that if one expects support from the community, one must offer a sincere investment into that community.”

Subsequent generations of the Davidson family took that belief to heart. Larry is the third generation of his family—after his grandfather and his father, Sig—to operate Davidsons. You could say that community service is a Davidson family value.

Or, as Larry puts it:  “It’s in my DNA.”

Larry’s dedication to the community extends beyond Davidsons’ doors. Like his father, Larry has served on a number of nonprofit boards, including those of Center in the Square, United Way of Roanoke Valley, and Trust House (now known as ARCH Services), and supported other nonprofits, including TAP, in different ways.

A leader in child abuse prevention

Janice, too, has developed deep community connections through her work in nonprofits and child abuse prevention over the past twenty-plus years.

She began as a volunteer at Trust House (now ARCH Services), then transitioned to a full-time employee. She left Trust House to join Children’s Trust, where she served as executive director for 17 years. During her tenure there, she began her work with the Child Advocacy Center of Roanoke, successfully merged the Court Appointed Special Advocates program into Children’s Trust, and expanded services at Children’s Trust. Now directing Children’s Advocacy Centers of Virginia, her work has been critical in addressing child abuse in southwest Virginia.

According to Janice, “It’s here and it’s not going away, as much as we’d like it to. But children are better served now than they have ever been.”

Additionally, Janice has worked closely with TAP’s Domestic Violence Services (DVS). Stacey Sheppard, director of DVS programs, refers families in need to CACVA. In return, CACVA refers families in need to TAP. Stacey notes, “If it had not been for Janice, the Roanoke CACVA would have never started… She is an absolute angel to ensure that children have safe environments.”

Shared Beliefs and Deeply Personal Connections

Janice and Larry’s support of TAP also reflects a deeply personal connection to the organization. They enjoyed a close, decades-long friendship with Owen Schultz, the former director of TAP’s Planning Department. Among their shared beliefs was the need to work to leave their community a better place than they found it. After Owen’s death in 2016, Larry and Janice continued to support TAP as a way of honoring their friend’s legacy.

Larry Davidson and Janice Dinkins-Davidson remain committed to leaving their community better than they found it. As Janice notes, serving the community is “the rent I pay to live on the planet.”

A Thank You from Sabrina’s Place

Sabrina’s Place, created in 2007, provides a safe space for custody exchanges and visitations. The program is in downtown Roanoke, housed in the same building since its inception. Unexpectedly, the program’s federal funding ended in 2016. The building’s owners, Cooper Youell and Scott Graeff, graciously allowed Sabrina’s Place to remain rent-free until other funding could be secured.

The property owners have also gone above and beyond to address maintenance issues and create a welcoming space for Sabrina’s Place families. Stacey Sheppard, director of TAP’s domestic violence services programs, states, “Our landlords have been diligent to fix any maintenance issues to ensure our families do not have an interruption in services.” Melody Robinson, Sabrina’s Place Program Manager, agrees. “They have been terrific and diligent at addressing … needs in the building, especially when it involves health and safety,” she says. This support from the property owners is crucial since the program cannot afford to pay for repairs on its own.

Cooper and Scott’s support of Sabrina Place has allowed the program to keep its doors open during hard times. Because of them, the only supervised visitation and safe exchange center in the region continues to serve families in need. From all of us at TAP, we thank them for their generosity and support.

For more information about how you can become a Sabrina’s Place supporter, please call (540) 777‑3799 or complete the contact form below.

Start Your Spring Cleaning with TAP Books

Gearing up for your spring cleaning? Donate your used books to TAP Books and give them a second life!

TAP Books sells pre-owned books online and uses the profits to fund other TAP services. Not only does the program purchase wholesale used books, but it also relies heavily on community support. “Donations are the absolute lifeblood of the program,” says Chad Hill, the program’s coordinator.

More than just books

Preschool children reading

TAP Books sells more than books. It sells CDs, DVDs, Blu-rays, and video games too. “We can take any media except for VHS tapes. If people have old DVDs or video games, we’d love to take them off of their hands,” says Chad.

In terms of book donations, TAP Books takes almost anything.

“With every book that is given to us, there is an option for us to resell or recycle it and make profit,” Chad explains. “Obviously, we want new, good books that we can sell on Amazon and eBay, but even things that are old and in shreds can be sold by the pound to be recycled.”

Resell, Reuse, Recycle

By donating to TAP Books you’re supporting a program that gives old books new life and works for the greater good. Profits fuel other TAP programs, and books that can’t be sold are recycled to further extend their use.

TAP Books donation bin

Donating is easy—TAP Books has 24/7 donation bins stationed throughout the community. A list of drop-off locations can be found here.

With spring (and spring cleaning) just around the corner, now is the perfect time to go through your old collections and contribute to the TAP Books mission.

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American National Bank & Trust: Investing in the Community

American National Bank & Trust prioritizes making a difference in the communities it serves. Guided by this philosophy, the bank became a Bringing Hope Home sponsor this year.

Eddie Martin, American National Bank’s Chief Administrative Officer, explains the bank’s decision to support TAP this way: “As we consider the impact of our corporate donations, prioritization is given to health and human service organizations, financial education, and affordable housing initiatives.”

Mr. Martin continues, “We were struck by TAP’s passion for helping all individuals and families achieve a better quality of life in the communities we both serve.”

Just like TAP, American National Bank has been serving communities in southwestern Virginia for decades. Founded in 1909 in Danville, Virginia, the bank added a Roanoke branch in 2015. The bank now serves both Virginia and North Carolina with 26 branches.

Financial literacy is financial empowerment

American National Bank strengthens the communities it serves by investing in financial education initiatives. Their Bringing Hope Home sponsorship ultimately supported the TAP Tax Clinic. This program, now entering its 20th year, provides free tax preparation and filing services to low-income families. Tax Clinic customers not only get their taxes filed for free but are urged to use their refunds to pay off debt or build their savings. Such practices help build financial stability.

Outside of their sponsorship of TAP, American National Bank has also partnered with Banzai and United Way of Roanoke Valley’s Bank On program. Banzai provides free online financial literacy courses to both students and adults. United Way of Roanoke Valley’s Bank On partnership, which TAP is also a member of, provides everything from financial education and counseling to affordable banking opportunities.

“We believe it is our responsibility as a community bank and local business to take a leading role in strengthening our communities,” states Carolyn Kiser, American National’s Director of Marketing and Community Affairs. “Whether that’s helping a customer manage their finances, providing a loan to help a business succeed, or providing a financial donation, we value any opportunity to help our customers and communities thrive.”

Ms. Kiser continues, “By partnering with programs like Bank On Roanoke Valley, Banzai, and others, we hope to reach those both outside of the banking system and within it to ultimately offer resources that can help anyone with their financial well-being.”

To learn more about American National Bank, you can visit their website.

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The Tax Clinic Goes Virtual

The TAP Tax Clinic provides free tax preparation and filing for low-income taxpayers. As the program enters its 20th year, it continues to evolve in order to meet the needs of customers. Most recently, the Tax Clinic began to offer a virtual filing option to make traditionally in-person services accessible to all in the wake of COVID-19.

Teffany Henderson pioneered the program and continues to oversee it to this day. She reflects, “Before the start of the 2021 tax season, we had no idea how we were going to operate.” Roanoke had just seen a surge in coronavirus cases after the winter holidays. Tax Clinic volunteers—who are vital to organizing and filing returns quickly—felt unsafe meeting with customers in person.

“That’s why I applied for us to participate with GetYourRefund,” Teffany says. “Because I knew it was important for us to offer the program no matter what.”

Simple, easy, and accessible

GetYourRefund is an IRS-approved service that was born out of the pandemic. They provide virtual tax preparation and filing by connecting clients with programs such as the TAP Tax Clinic. Through their secure online portal, taxpayers can make an account and quickly begin the tax-filing process. They can easily photograph and upload documents using a cell phone or tablet and verify their identity with a selfie. It makes filing taxes accessible to anyone with an internet connection.

Last tax season was the Tax Clinic’s first year partnering with GetYourRefund, and the partnership will continue for the 2022 season. “Our clients found virtual filing to be much easier than expected,” explains Teffany. “And those who work full-time or don’t have transportation loved how they could get their taxes filed from home.”

You can enter tax documents into the GetYourRefund portal at any time, day or night. Once you make an account with GetYourRefund and upload your documents to the TAP-specific link, the Tax Clinic will receive your information and begin your return. Though virtual filing does not include the traditional in-person appointment with TAP Tax Site Coordinators, they still communicate regularly with you while preparing your return and always have your best interest in mind.

More money in your pocket

This year, Teffany stresses the importance of waiting to have all your documents before you file.

“If you received the Advance Child Tax Credit, meaning that you received payments beginning in July of 2021, you’re going to get a letter 6419 that has the amount you received and that form must be included with your tax return,” says Teffany. “The Tax Clinic can’t amend taxes, so if a customer files without all necessary documents, they have to pay someone to amend their tax return.”

It’s also important to wait to receive letter 6475 from the IRS to prevent a delay in receiving your refund. Letter 6475 is the Economic Impact Payment (aka, the third roll-out of stimulus checks) received in the beginning of 2021. This must be recorded in your tax return.

Tax laws change frequently. Being unaware of those changes could mean missing opportunities to increase your refund. Tax Clinic staff and volunteers are well-versed in the latest changes. As the Tax Clinic enters its 20th year, they are more prepared than ever to maximize taxpayers’ refunds and ensure nothing slips through the cracks.

To begin your virtual tax filing process, visit www.getyourrefund.org/tap.

Supporter Story: Ian Shaw

Dedicated donor Ian Shaw shares what makes TAP special.

Ian Shaw believes in giving back to the community. For years, he’s been a consistent and charitable donor to TAP. When asked what influences his recurring donations, Ian shares that he likes TAP’s variety of programs.

“There is a range of things that [TAP] does that can help a person be successful in life,” Ian says. “Because of the spectrum of work [TAP] does, it has a greater impact on people. I know that whatever I give to TAP will be used well.”

A Commitment to the Community

Ian invests in TAP because he sees the value of his community. While working for the City of Roanoke, he interacts with other locals on a daily basis. Moreover, having lived in Roanoke for more than 20 years, he knows what makes the city special as well as the areas in which it needs help.

 “My wife is from Roanoke originally and we’ve both lived here since ’96. We’ve been here for a while. It’s home for both of us,” Ian shares. He enjoys the walkability of the city as well as the proximity to outdoor activities. On the weekends, he and his family enjoy hiking Tinker Cliffs or paddling on the Roanoke River.

“But Roanoke does have the problems of a city as far as the income disparities and equity issues,” Ian continues. “Being here for a long time, it is important for me to address these things and make sure everyone has the same opportunities.”

Ian encourages others to invest in the Roanoke community as well. “If everyone was a little bit generous,” he shares, “that would go a long way to solve a lot of our problems in the world.”

One time or recurring donations to TAP can be made by visiting: https://tapintohope.org/support-us/donate/

Supporter Story: Mary Ann McAden & Beth Macher

Dynamic duo Mary Ann and Beth provide essential donations to our Domestic Violence Services.

It all began when Mary Ann donated all the furniture from a condo she was selling. She’d reached out to TAP after hearing about our Domestic Violence Services from a family member. Though she knew how useful DVS’ services were, she had no idea just how big the need was.

Domestic Violence and the Pandemic

The pandemic led to a rise in domestic violence rates as victims were often stuck at home with their abusers. High rates of unemployment and the resulting stress took the situation from bad to worse. DVS was getting more calls than ever.

DVS works to rehouse individuals and families affected by domestic violence. Victims often can’t bring many belongings when they leave their abusive situation, so DVS also helps to provide them with furniture and other household necessities.

Rallying the Community

Once Mary Ann was aware of the need, she called her friend Beth and they hit the ground running. “Because of the pandemic, everyone was stuck at home,” Mary Ann recalls. With their free time, they began decluttering. “We told everyone we knew that we were taking donations for domestic violence survivors,” she says. “It first began with our donations, but now several different people will drop off items at our front porch each week.”

People need more than just furniture. “I ask people to bring old toys their kids have grown out of,” says Beth. Mary Ann asks people to donate picture frames. Goods like toys, craft supplies, and picture frames can be integral to making a family’s new house a home and keeping them from returning to an abuser.

“People can have a new beginning.”

Mary Ann and Beth’s efforts have truly changed lives. Between them, they have helped rehouse more than 30 families with the donations they have collected.

With a new home and furniture, domestic violence survivors can begin to heal from their abuse. “People can have a new beginning,” Beth says.

Two Myths about Volunteering at the TAP Tax Clinic

TAP Tax Clinic

Each year at TAP, we file over 1,000 free tax returns for low-income residents of Roanoke. This work relies on the help of volunteers. Here are the two biggest myths about volunteering at the Tax Clinic—and why they shouldn’t stop anyone from helping out.

Myth #1: I don’t know enough about tax return preparation

Most people don’t—at first. Many of our volunteers begin with no prior experience in tax return preparation. As a result, volunteers are trained through Link & Learn Taxes, an online program used by the IRS. In addition, our tax site coordinator provides personal training to ensure you’re confident in your knowledge.

Sherman Witcher, a Virginia Western student and 2019 Tax Clinic volunteer, said “knowing almost nothing about tax return preparation, it was somewhat intimidating to dive in headfirst, but the IRS training modules are tailored to people who have little to no background.”

Likewise, Sofiia Melnyk also began volunteering with no experience. Melnyk moved from Ukraine in 2016, and did not know how the US filing process worked. She decided to volunteer to get accounting experience. After her training, she helped over 100 families file tax returns.

Each year, volunteers get the training they need to help our clients. All together, we help over 1,000 people file their tax returns without a single rejection.

Myth #2: I don’t have enough time

Schedules today are packed with work, making dinner, or soccer practice. Due to this, the TAP Tax Clinic offers an online training program. Link & Learn Taxes is self-paced, meaning you can complete it as you find time in your day.

“With the online modules,” Witcher said, “I could easily study the material without having to drive 40 minutes from Franklin County.”

Once the training is complete, you can offer as much time as you want to the Tax Clinic. “I was able to build my own schedule that worked with my college classes,” said Melnyk. Every bit helps. The Tax Clinic is open 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. every weekday, and runs from February 1 to April 15. We welcome any hours you can help.

Facts about Being a Tax Clinic Volunteer

Research shows that volunteering has many benefits. Here are a few that volunteering at the Tax Clinic offers:

Fact #1: Help your community

This one’s obvious. The TAP Tax Clinic offers free tax preparation for low-income Virginians. Without the tax clinic, these clients may miss out on important credits or spend a majority of their refund on a paid service. While volunteering, Melnyk assisted a client who was overjoyed after discovering that she didn’t owe thousands in taxes, but in fact would be receiving a refund. “There were so many people who made me feel that my volunteering time truly mattered,” Melnyk said. “It was a rewarding experience.”

Fact #2: Connect with people & feel better

Volunteering is proven to lower feelings of loneliness. Beyond that, a study by Indiana University’s School of Philanthropy found that volunteering lowered stress, reduced feelings of depression, and elevated mood. In fact, the study found that volunteers spend 38% fewer nights in the hospital.

Fact #3: Build your resume, or put your skills to work

Volunteering at the TAP Tax Clinic will give you new skills and hone your knowledge of tax law. Professionals can earn licensing credits to boost their careers. Students like Melnyk and Witcher can get résumé-building experience. Specifically, those studying business, accounting, or finance can get out of the classroom and learn in a hands-on fashion. Depending on their program, students can even earn course credit from volunteering.

Further, Witcher found that his volunteer time at the Tax Clinic made his résumé stand out. “I think that students should seek to distinguish themselves from their peers, and TAP is a great outlet for doing so,” he said.

Sign Up to Volunteer or Find Out More

The deadline for volunteer sign up is January 5, 2022. Group training will begin in October 2021.

To get involved, please contact Teffany Henderson at 540-283-4916 or teffany.henderson@nulltapintohope.org.

To learn more about the TAP Tax Clinic here.