Investor Spotlight: Gentry Locke Attorneys

Supporter Spotlight: Gentry Locke

Gentry Locke is a strong supporter of TAP youth programs. Earlier this year, they invited students from our African American Culture and Contemporary Issues (AACCI) class to visit their Roanoke office on Juneteenth.

During this visit, the students, along with teacher Antonio Stovall, shared stories about how the program changed their lives. “It was incredibly inspiring and very uplifting,” says Monica Monday, chair of Gentry Locke’s Executive Board.

Attendees were also given a behind-the-scenes look at what it’s like to work there. After the visit, one student expressed interest in being an attorney. “We’re now talking with him about doing an internship at Gentry Locke,” Monica says. 

Another visit several years ago involved a mock trial. Students “got to decide the case and then we had a debrief about the legal issues, the factual issues, what it’s like to be a lawyer,” explains Monica.

The attorneys also plan to collaborate with AACCI in the future on a “speakers and snacks” program. They will regularly visit the classroom to speak to students about different topics and hand out snacks. “What we’re doing right now is we’re working on ways to stay connected with these students, but we’re always looking for other opportunities to partner with TAP,” says Monica. “We really value our partnership with TAP and we appreciate everything they do for the community.”

Image depicts multiple photos and illustrations of Annette over the years.

Annette Lewis: A Local Legacy

“When I came aboard TAP, I didn’t know how young it was,” says Annette Lewis, president and CEO. That was in 1988. TAP had been established 23 years prior, in 1965. “I thought it had been around forever. It was very well known in the community for helping people move out of poverty.” Now, in its 59th year, TAP’s still very well known, particularly by those who can use a helping hand. Annette is too. She’ll be leaving a legacy when she retires in March.

Annette worked for Allstate for nine years before leaving her job as manager to begin her time at TAP. Ironically, she recalls, “I decided I wasn’t going to manage anything or anybody else. I wanted a nine-to-five job.” TAP seemed a good fit with her existing social work degree, so she took a position as a summer youth employment counselor. “I fell in love with it,” she says. Teaching young people about the importance of showing up to work on time, finishing jobs in progress, communicating effectively with supervisors, and learning skills necessary to get and keep a job was invigorating. “I have run into many of them in recent years.  Here they are, professionals today, having gained this knowledge that they received [from TAP’s training].” 

“During my time at TAP, after deciding I didn’t want to become a manager, I became a supervisor with Head Start, I became a director,” she admits. And of course, ultimately, she became president and CEO.  

A Can-Do Culture

When Annette joined TAP 36 years ago, she discovered a can-do culture. “Early on, we were successful employing people with a passion. What they didn’t know they learned on the job. And this agency grew from that mindset,” she recalls. “If you had a skill, you could do just about anything.”

Annette tells the story of 21-passenger bus. At the time, she had been promoted to the coordinator of the Summer Youth Employment Program. She was taking youth on an overnight trip to a city 1.5 hours away. Due to the good relationship that the rental company had with TAP, the key was left so that the vehicle could be picked up if the office was closed. Surprisingly, the key was left for a 21-passenger bus. Annette looked at the vehicle, called her supervisor and said, “I don’t think I can drive this vehicle.”  She quickly realized her old way of thinking didn’t fit the TAP culture. Annette drove the bus that day, full of passengers. 

That passion and problem-solving spirit continues today. TAP is one of the main connectors in the community between those in need and area not-for-profits, according to a 2018 study. In fact, Virginia Tech’s research called TAP a “lynchpin,” critical in directing those in need to appropriate area providers. As a community action agency, TAP pays attention to what citizens are asking for and will often create initiatives and programs when other agencies can’t fill a void. With this mindset, the organization not only has a profound effect on the underprivileged in our area, but also the greater community as a whole. TAP’s yearly economic impact exceeds $35 million.   

Changing focus

Annette recalls that when she first started at TAP, services looked a little different than they do today. “We had many of the same programs we have now, youth programs, adult programs, workforce development programs, housing programs, a large Head Start program. TAP started the food bank [now Feeding Southwest Virginia] so we had food pantries. We also had clothes closets and other emergency services. We spent a lot of resources on those services. A decision was made to no longer provide emergency services.”

“I think the best decision that the agency made was to move out of the emergency services business into the human, community, and economic development services,” says Annette. “People will always need emergency services if they can’t stand on their own two feet. Equip people with the education and the skills that they need to stand on their own two feet and you’re changing lives, one family at a time.”

Funding Hope

Historically, TAP has relied heavily on grant funding. However, grant restrictions make it difficult to provide all of the services that families need. Grants also get discontinued and/or require annual reapplications without any ongoing funding guarantees. With more unrestricted funds and bigger community support, TAP can become more effective in its mission.

“Word of mouth drives people to knock on our door,” says Annette. She admits that influential people and those in a position to support TAP financially are less apt to know what TAP does. “I’m amazed, because I’m working in an environment where everyone knows us. That’s been interesting.”

To address this concern, TAP hired a director of fund development in 2023. TAP has tried several tactics to raise discretionary funds throughout the years, with varying success. This included special events. Annette explains that hosting a variety of concerts and other events raised some money, but not enough to start a program or keep one going.     

The agency finally struck the right chord when it introduced the Bringing Hope Home campaign four years ago. “Each year of the campaign, we raised more than our goal,” says Annette. “In three years, we’ve raised over $900,000. One hundred percent of the board participates.” With increasingly more effective funding initiatives, TAP can better provide for those it serves.

Looking Back

When asked what has brought the most joy from her tenure as president, Annette responds, “It’s the people that are assisted. It’s the lives that have been impacted. When I became a director and had graduation ceremonies—it’s the people who walk across the stage for the first time in their lives. Or a person who’s been abused and they don’t see any hope, who finds out they can get a safety plan and leave an abusive relationship. All of those things are just so rewarding.”

A few memories stick out in particular. Annette recalls a gentleman who worked at a manufacturing company for over 40 years until he retired in his 70s. “He never told anyone he couldn’t read.” She says she’ll never forget the moment when, after going through the TAP literacy program, he read a Valentine’s Day card to his wife for the very first time.  

“We had two federal Two-Generation grants that focused on assisting adults to continue their education so they could get a good-paying job while providing support for their children [through Head Start and other childcare programs],” she continues. “It was very successful. We have someone now who’s working on her masters in nursing as a result of our having a program like that. It is a best practice model for ending generational poverty. It’s not about the grant or just the individual. It’s about the family and their needs.”

The work TAP does with area youth is also a bright point. “At one time, schools in our region had children dropping out of school at an alarming rate of 500 kids each year. Most of them were Roanoke City Schools’ children. We started a dropout retrieval program and got over 900 back into education.” This was over a six-year period.

Finally, “To be in a home where you see sewage going up and down the walls and then seeing that home being repaired so the family can live in it safely and affordably is truly amazing,” she says. “People don’t realize how fortunate or blessed they are.”   

Pride in Standing Out

“We are not your typical non-profit,” says Annette. “We do so many things while operating over 20 programs. Our senior staff are on numerous boards and committees throughout the community to connect our families with resources to help them move out of poverty.”

She’s proud of a strong board and associated fund development initiatives. Bylaw changes shortened permitted tenure terms, which she finds helpful. “We’re able to bring in leaders from the community with new ideas and other connections to help keep our agency strong.”   

“When I think of things that started while I’ve been here, either under my leadership as a director or president of the agency, I am proud of the microenterprise loan fund program that has grown into a Community Development Financial Institution where we help small businesses get on their feet and become very strong and very respected in the community,” says Annette. 

She’s also proud of three other major initiatives started by her, “The dropout retrieval program” mentioned earlier that returned over 900 to education. Annette continues, “Sabrina’s Place, the only supervised visitation and safe exchange center in our region for victims of domestic violence and their children that has kept over 1,000 victims and their children safe. Families come from across the country to benefit from the program; and TAP’s Whole Family Initiative.”

As a result of TAP’s Whole Family focus, its programs aim to work in concert to meet the needs of each member in a family simultaneously. For example, a parent may be getting a Certified Nurse Aide (CNA) or Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA) certification through TAP’s adult education and employment programs while using childcare through Head Start. Looking at all family member needs has become a guiding principle for TAP.

 “I’m very excited about the direction the agency is going, to have a focus on the whole family and not operating in silos anymore,” Annette says.

“Annette has dedicated her life to helping the poor and those in need,” says Senator John S. Edwards. “Her extraordinary leadership at TAP has made life better for so many. Her leadership has extended to southwest Virginia and across the state in improving the lives for many families living in poverty.  I am proud to know her as a friend.”   Annette is the third president in TAP’s 59-year history. She’s served in this role for eight years. The agency has changed and evolved since she started as a summer youth employment counselor and so has she. Her last day at TAP will be March 1.

Two clapsed hands resting on a person's knee.

Building a More Resilient Community Through Social Connection

Compassion and social connection are fundamental aspects of human existence. This support plays a crucial, yet underestimated role in our daily lives. Data increasingly show that a lack of social bonds can lead to isolation—and ultimately impact one’s health.

The Fundamentals of Well-Being

According to TAP’s 2022 Community Needs Assessment, lacking a support system is a common problem. Surveys of 559 individuals revealed that 56% of people across our service area face a lack of social support. However, this isn’t just a local problem—the issue has gained attention from national health institutions.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention defines social connection as “relationships that create a sense of belonging and being cared for, valued, and supported.” These relationships have a larger impact than one might think. As the CDC explains, “When people are socially connected and have stable and supportive relationships, they are more likely to make healthy choices and to have better mental and physical health outcomes. They are also better able to cope with hard times, stress, anxiety, and depression.” Strong social bonds have been shown to lower one’s risk of heart disease, stroke, and dementia. The impact on community health was also emphasized by the CDC, stating that, “Social connectedness can also help create trust and resilience within communities.”

Further, the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion lists social and community support as one of the five social determinants of health. The Office notes, “Many people face challenges and dangers they can’t control—like unsafe neighborhoods, discrimination, or trouble affording the things they need. This can have a negative impact on health and safety throughout life. Positive relationships at home, at work, and in the community can help reduce these negative impacts.”

Compassion for Everyone

TAP is dedicated to confronting the social connection crisis through our range of programs, providing compassion and encouragement during tough times. We offer tailored support, paths to self-sufficiency, and services to address overlooked needs—all while fostering a community that builds networks and prevents isolation.

The impact of supporting those in need of connection can’t be overstated. By creating connections and opportunities, TAP aims to ignite the human spirit and build a more resilient community. Join us in making a difference! Subscribe to our monthly newsletter to stay informed about our community’s evolving needs, and visit our website to learn more about our programs and explore ways to contribute. Together, let’s build a stronger and more supportive community!

Investor Spotlight: Delta Dental of Virginia

Delta Dental of Virginia has more than 50 years’ experience providing access to quality oral healthcare. With their headquarters located right here in Roanoke, they’re also dedicated community supporters.

“It’s important that we serve our members and promote good oral health, but we also feel that service in the communities where our team members live and work is vital to accomplishing our mission to create healthy smiles throughout Virginia,” says Jeremy Butterfield, senior manager of corporate communications for Delta Dental of Virginia.

When it comes to serving their community, they don’t stop at oral health. Delta Dental of Virginia’s strong volunteer program encourages employees to find and volunteer with organizations that are important to them. “Our employee-led Smile Ambassadors group guides our company efforts around philanthropy, volunteerism, and environmental stewardship,” Jeremy notes. Not only has Delta Dental of Virginia provided grants to TAP for various programs, they’ve also been an annual investor in our Bringing Hope Home fundraising campaign. When asked why they choose to support TAP, Jeremy notes that “TAP is a strong organization with a long history of service, which speaks to your capacity to earn support and make good use of it in the communities you serve.”

Stories of hope graphic with photos of Ben and Miz

2022-2023 Annual Report

You Improved the Lives of Over 5,700 People Last Year

We are proud to share some highlights and stories from the past year in our 2022-2023 Annual Report. Please take a look at the report to see how the work you support is making our community stronger, healthier, safer, and more prosperous—one person, one family at a time.

TAP Provides Opportunity and Hope

Poverty robs people of opportunity and crushes hope; it creates a vicious cycle that destroys lives and communities. That’s why at TAP we work day and night to help people get out of and stay out of poverty. It is a mission to restore hope by giving families and individuals the resources and opportunities they need to take charge of their lives. We do this through our more than twenty programs in the areas of education and employment, housing, financial services, and domestic violence and family services. Our 2022-2023 Annual Report provides a glimpse into these programs and the lives that are better today because of your generosity.

These stories inspire, and they show just how far TAP’s work extends. You’ll read about Miz and how she has broken free from the cycle of poverty through the support of TAP’s job-training programs and TAP Head Start. She is now giving back to the community as a healthcare professional. You’ll also read about Ben, who has been able to improve and make repairs to his family farm that might otherwise have been lost without the support of TAP’s Business Seed program. His business not only provides for his own livelihood, but also provides hay and livestock throughout the area.

Your Support Makes This Possible

Because TAP is local and has no national affiliations, 100% of your gift stays right here in our community. Your support provides hope to Miz and Ben and thousands like them, giving them the opportunity they need to take charge of their lives. We are all better because of it. To make your gift today, please visit our donation page.