Featured Story: Miz Lexima

TAP Helps the Whole Family: Miz’s Story

Miz Lexima is a successful, smart, and driven woman. Working as an oncology and infusion nurse, she is almost done with her master’s degree in nursing through James Madison University and is planning to become a nurse practitioner after graduation. And as if that wasn’t enough, she also runs a business to create medical-grade wigs. How did Miz start on this track? She worked with TAP.

After graduating from high school, Miz wasn’t sure what she was going to do. Then her older sister recommended TAP’s Certified Nurse Aide program. It seemed like a good fit for Miz—she had always been inspired by nurses. “And TAP had a good reputation,” she says, so she joined the program.

From her start with TAP in the CNA program, Miz felt like she was in the right place—she felt a connection with TAP staff from the beginning and was excited to see Black women in roles of authority. Feeling comfortable at TAP, she also began to look at other programs. She enrolled her kids in TAP’s Head Start program and later served as the vice president of the TAP Head Start Parent Policy Council. Through this role, Miz developed a range of skills, like networking and building a professional reputation. She spent time in a few of TAP’s education and employment programs and gained educational and professional experience, which led to her getting an associate degree in nursing from Virginia Western, and her Bachelor of Science in Nursing from James Madison University.

Miz found that TAP had programs which could help her while she was parenting, working, and pursuing her education at the same time. TAP’s Job Training programs gave Miz an extra support system when she needed it. Looking back, she recalls “I had an end point of nursing,” and that the staff at TAP “helped me find the way there.” And especially early on, TAP programs were able to give support in ways that made a difference. When her laptop died right before the end of her semester, Miz was able to consult with TAP staff. TAP was able to use some job training funding to quickly replace the broken laptop since it was crucial to her education and training work. Miz put in the hard work, and TAP was able to make sure small barriers couldn’t keep her from reaching the finish line.

For Miz, working as a nurse is deeply rooted in her personal goals, and her desire to be a leader in the community. The opportunities she has taken advantage of are as much about the sense of growth as they are the qualification at the end of the journey. “I want to be a leader in my community through nursing,” Miz explains. At TAP, she could pursue her full portfolio of personal and professional goals without needing to prioritize one over the other.  

With the final stretch of her nursing goals in sight, she is looking forward to establishing herself as not just a Nurse Practitioner but also as a community leader through her work, and to innovating as an entrepreneur with a strong foundation of medical knowledge powering her future business endeavors. Looking back, Miz knows she is on the right path. “Nursing is tough,” she acknowledges. “But life’s been good.”

Supporter Spotlight: Spilman Thomas & Battle

Spilman Makes Giving Back a Priority

This year marks the 160th anniversary of Spilman Thomas & Battle’s founding. The Roanoke office was opened in 2007 to improve and expand services to clients in Virginia and the Mid-Atlantic region. At that time, the firm focused on wealth management, banking & finance, bankruptcy & creditors’ rights, consumer finance, tax law, and bond/public finance. Since then, the firm has expanded and deepened practices in local government law, labor and employment law, and general litigation. Firm offices across the country connect through a secure technology platform. Attorneys collaborate daily with colleagues on a variety of matters.

Spilman has been a TAP Empower Level Sponsor for the past four years. “We deeply believe in TAP’s mission to help lift our community out of poverty,” says Bryce J. Hunter, an attorney with the Roanoke office of Spilman Thomas & Battle. “It’s a cause that is very near and dear to the heart of many of us at Spilman. We are pleased and grateful that we are able to support TAP.”

The firm has a rich and diverse tradition of giving back. “Our community and professional stewardship is at the core of who we are,” says Lori D. Thompson, Member in Charge of Spilman’s Roanoke Office. Activities include pro bono legal services, volunteering in local schools, adoption services, and elder care. “We encourage each individual to contribute their time and resources to a cause they are personally passionate about,” she explains.    

“We recognize the value of housing affordability and availability to organizations, like TAP, and governmental authorities as a means to maintain workforce mobility, job opportunities, and positive impact on families and communities,” Lori continues. This includes representing lenders, investors, developers, and local governmental authorities with affordable housing and community development matters. Spilman also provides counsel on real estate, tax, financing, and government affairs solutions.

The firm advises on low-income housing tax credit projects, public-private partnerships, governmental financing and economic development initiatives and tax allocation district formation and financing. Regionally, the firm has worked with the Roanoke Valley Alleghany Regional Commission (RVARC), the Covington Redevelopment and Housing Authority, and the Bedford Redevelopment and Housing Authority. It has collaborated with the City of Lexington and Botetourt County on zoning reforms to improve housing availability and affordability. Additionally, a Spilman attorney is Co-Chair of the Housing Law Practice Group for the Local Government Attorneys.

Spilman recently received the Empowering Women Award from Virginia Lawyers Weekly. The award is designed to showcase tangible and innovative efforts by law firms to advance women attorneys in the workplace and community. 

Saving a Family Farm

A New Beginning

In 2009, Ben Flinchum left his Montana life to manage Cold Creek Cattle & Hay. His grandfather had bought the Craig County farm in 1951. Ben’s dad and his siblings had no interest in farming. Now, at 36 years old, he has undertaken the task of repairing and updating a property spanning over 200 acres.

Helping Empower Agriculture

“The farm was not in good repair,” says Ben. “My grandfather had been doing most of it on his own in his 80s.” Ben tells stories of young cows swimming in the creek to get out. He’d have to visit neighbors’ properties to get the escaped cattle.

Fencing repairs became crucial, but Ben couldn’t afford it upfront. “One of the biggest problems with being young and getting into agriculture is getting enough money to do all the improvements,” Ben says. “If I could only afford to do half [the fencing], they’re still going to get out on the other part.” That’s where TAP came in.

Ben secured a $100,000, five-year, low interest loan from TAP’s Business Seed program. This helped Ben keep the farm going and make vital repairs. He fixed the fencing, and bought new hay equipment and more cows. Ben also built a safe space to vaccinate and tag cattle. The Seed funds allow regular soil testing and treatment, setting up the farm for future prosperity.

TAP created Business Seed Capital, Inc. in 1998. It provides microenterprise loans to businesses that don’t meet standard bank loan criteria. Curtis Thomson, TAP’s vice president of financial services and director of Business Seed Capital, Inc., explains, “This loan fund and at least five additional loan pools are all designated for business growth. It’s all under the financial services umbrella, which is just another resource that TAP has to give individuals and families another opportunity for economic advancement.”

Embracing Tomorrow’s Potential

Ben owns both Cold Creek Saw Mill & Forestry in New Castle and the farm splits his time between them. The sawmill offers direct-to-consumer rough-cut lumber used mostly for barns and fences. The farm sells beef to individuals, calves to farmers, and hay to horse owners.

“One thing that we hear a lot in agricultural circles is that young folks aren’t interested in farming anymore,” says Ben. “Statistics show the average age of farmers going up. One thing I’d like to say to that is there are a lot of young folks interested in agriculture, but they don’t come from a farming background. It’s an incredibly daunting task to [start a farm].” Ben says TAP programs are a valuable resource for those interested in farming. In his case, TAP is helping him continue his family’s legacy. The infusion of cash allowed Ben to make the farm safer for everyone and helped him establish processes for future sustainability. “There’s a song I like to reference by George Strait called The World Less Traveled,” says Ben. “It’s about when you go against the grain and dare to dream. Agriculture is all about dreaming and taking risks. Sometimes you win and sometimes you lose. I think it’s very important to recognize the strength and determination agricultural folks possess. Agriculture is the strength our country was built on.”

Bank of Botetourt Is All about Community          

Bank of Botetourt is celebrating its 125th anniversary this year. Established in 1899, theBank has grown to thirteen offices in four counties throughout the region. A new office in Rocky Mount, slated to open in the fall of 2024, is under construction. Bank of Botetourt offers competitive business and personal banking services and operates a mortgage division, Virginia Mountain Mortgage, and a financial services division, Botetourt Wealth Management.  

“We decided to become a supporter of TAP through conversations with Annette [Lewis, former TAP President & CEO],” explains Mary Ann Miller, FVP Marketing Strategy & Business Development Officer for Bank of Botetourt. The TAP Board voted Mary Ann in as a member this February. “I am honored to serve on the Board and look forward to collaborating to position TAP for future success.” 

“We have been working with TAP through the Early Head Start program in Buena Vista,” explains Mary Ann. The Bank sent volunteers every week, starting last fall, and is now doing so monthly. Through that partnership and experience, we learned the needs and wanted to increase our commitment. At first, volunteers helped where staff needed support in the classrooms. Now we have added financial education and reading to the children. Each month, two volunteers provide approximately six hours which helps TAP with grant funding applications. “We wanted to expand some of our outreach within the Rockbridge community and this was a need that TAP had for assistance and as an existing partner it was ideal for us both.”    

In 2023, the Bank moved up from a Courage Investor to an Empower Investor in TAP’s Bringing Hope Home annual campaign. “The Bank is proud to partner with TAP through both sponsorship and volunteerism at its Early Head Start program each month. We take this opportunity to help them better understand basic banking fundamentals and currency. The Bank looks forward to continuing our relationship with TAP through this program and beyond as we continue to grow,” shared Bank President and COO, Michelle Austin.   

Total Action for Progress Launches From Fear to Hope to Support Domestic Violence Survivors

Month Long Crowdfunding Campaign Aimed at Funding Domestic Violence Services in Southwest Virginia

Roanoke, VA, April 30, 2024 – Amid escalating violence and need in our community, Total Action for Progress (TAP) is launching an urgent crowdfunding campaign starting May 1st to bolster its domestic violence prevention and support services. This critical one month initiative called From Fear to Hope aims to address the sharp rise in violent crime, up by 30% since 2020, and a 15% increase in reports of child abuse in the same period. The aftermath has seen a staggering 173% surge in individuals and families turning to TAP for shelter and support.

TAP’s Domestic Violence Services and Sabrina’s Place stand at the forefront of this crisis, providing emergency assistance, legal advocacy, crisis intervention, and a safe space for supervised visitation and safe exchanges. Sabrina’s Place is a unique resource in the Roanoke Valley, a sanctuary for those affected by domestic violence.

“We are witnessing the devastating impact of violence on our community,” said Stacey Sheppard, Director of Housing & Human Services at TAP. “The demand for our services has never been greater. This campaign is not   just a call for funding; it’s a call to action against domestic violence and intimate partner violence.”

The community’s participation in this crowdfunding effort is vital. Contributions will directly enable the scaling of TAP’s services, addressing the heightened need for safe shelters, legal assistance, and supportive interventions.

For details on how to support this campaign or to learn more about TAP’s efforts, please visit https://tapintohope.org/from-fear-to-hope-campaign/

TAP Honors Annette Lewis with School Renaming and Launch of Endowment Fund

In a heartfelt tribute to a remarkable career and profound impact on education and community service, Total Action for Progress (TAP) celebrated the retirement of Ms. Annette M. Lewis on April 12. The highlight of the evening was the announcement of renaming the Greenvale School to the Annette Martin Lewis Head Start Center, in honor of Lewis’s visionary leadership and dedication to early childhood education.

Annette Lewis has served TAP with distinction for over 35 years, 9 of those as President and CEO. She has been instrumental in the agency’s growth and to empowering the youngest members of the community. The renaming ceremony underscored Lewis’s legacy as an advocate for the transformative power of education.

“I am in awe with the outpouring of support for my service at TAP.  The kind expressions shown to me have touched my heart,” stated Lewis. “Words cannot describe the amazement and honor I feel to have a Head Start Center named after me.  I love Head Start because of its mission and all it does for families and communities.”

The event also marked the formation of the Lewis Center Endowment, a fund established to ensure the perpetual care and support of the newly named Annette Martin Lewis Head Start Center. This endowment represents a sustainable commitment to guaranteeing that future generations will benefit from the same level of passion and dedication that she exemplified.

“We are incredibly proud to honor Ms. Lewis’s extraordinary contributions to TAP and to our community,” said Angela Penn, President and CEO at TAP. “Renaming the Head Start Center in her honor and establishing the Lewis Center Endowment are testaments to the lasting change she has inspired. We invite our supporters and friends to join us in building on this legacy.”

As TAP looks forward to this new chapter, the Annette Martin Lewis Head Start Center and the Lewis Center Endowment stand as symbols of hope, education, and the power of community support. For more information on the Annette Martin Lewis Head Start Center and how to support the Lewis Center Endowment, please visit: https://tapintohope.org/annette-lewis-head-start-center/.

SERCAP: From TAP Pilot Program to Helping Provide Safe Water Across Seven States

Southeast Rural Community Action Project (SERCAP) started as a TAP pilot program, the Virginia Water Project, to provide safe drinking water to Roanoke Valley residents. The program proved so successful that it spun off into its own organization in 1969. Today, SERCAP serves over one million households across seven states. They provide safe water, sanitary water disposal, and structurally sound housing. 

“In 1966 there were 278,000 families in Virginia with no indoor plumbing and no running water on the property,” explained the late Cabell Brand, founder of TAP and the creator of what ultimately became SERCAP. This expanded to the larger RCAP network, serving the entire United States with community development projects. His comments are captured in a video production by SERCAP. “So, we started a demonstration water project and got a grant from the Ford Foundation to test this idea. And what we found out was when you brought water to people, economic development started. People started putting roads in, and infrastructure, and people started building houses. So, this caught on with the State legislature, and our demonstration water project eventually became the Virginia Water Project, and the Virginia Water Project then became the National Water Project.”

“We are an organization that holds the hands of small rural communities that often tend to feel like they are left behind,” explains Hope F. Cupit, President & CEO of SERCAP. “We work with communities for the long term, over 30-40 years, to get them to where they need to be.” This includes providing support for economic development, job creation, and infrastructure. “We find ourselves working with many community-based projects, rather than individuals.”

Born and raised in Roanoke, Hope has both professional and personal ties to TAP. “My first introduction to TAP as a child that I recall is being at the Head Start center.” This was located at the YMCA in Gainsboro. “That’s where we all went. Had great memories there. The teachers were great to us. We felt nurtured.”

Hope’s a community success story herself. She was one of the first participants in Project Discovery. TAP took her to visit colleges and helped pay for entrance exam fees. She received an accounting degree from James Madison University, then became a licensed CPA. Hope later earned a master’s degree. She is now an Adjunct Assistant Professor at Virginia Western Community College. Two of her three children have gone on to earn college degrees.

Hope joined SERCAP in 2007 as the comptroller and became CEO two years later. “I finally got to meet the man who made this all possible and that was Cabell Brand,” she says. “That was the man who provided the necessary support to a group of folks who he did not have to help because he was already a self-made millionaire. He gave back to people who were less fortunate and he didn’t have to. I can’t thank him and his family enough.”

“This has come back full circle,” Hope explains. “I came back home to Roanoke working very closely with the Agency who gave me the support to get to where I am today. I want to make sure I’m in a position to give back to others because of the situation I found myself in years ago.”

This year, SERCAP became a TAP Corporate Investor.

Angela Penn Header 2

Picking Up the Mantle And Moving Forward – New President & CEO, Angela Penn Discusses Her Vision for TAP’s Future

On March 2, 2024, TAP welcomed its fourth President & CEO in its 59-year history when Angela Penn assumed the helm. Throughout her 20 years with the agency, she’s led TAP’s community and housing development initiatives. She also spent six years as the public information officer for the Roanoke Redevelopment and Housing Authority. Angela’s husband is from Roanoke. His 101-year-old grandmother was a TAP Head Start teacher at Lincoln Terrace.

Thinking Forward

“The way I view TAP, as it approaches its 60th anniversary next year, is it has been the agency that has helped families gain personal and economic independence,” Angela says. “TAP is at the heart of transforming lives. My role is to help make sure that we have all of the things in place in order to continue striving for that mission and continue to work with the community that we serve.”

In August 2023, TAP hired Dr. David Johns to fill a new role as Director of Fund Development. “I think that is an incredible positive focus for our agency,” says Angela. “We haven’t always had the capacity to have someone focused on fund development.” 

The Bringing Hope Home campaign is part of this effort to encourage local private sector support for TAP. It’s establishing an endowment and creating a forward-thinking perspective. “It helps us look at more creative and innovate ways to meet needs,” Angela explains. “We are a grant-driven organization where the funders prescribe what we can do with those dollars. For us to have the flexibility of unrestricted dollars will help us meet community needs at another level.”

Whole Family Focus

Angela’s predecessor, Annette Lewis, spearheaded the agency’s recent shift to a Whole Family focus. The initiative means TAP provides services to the entire household, rather than only the individual who walks through our doors. “I think that it is a much-needed approach,” says Angela. “I think it has done tremendous things for our organization because if you look at the structure of TAP, we really are a large organization with five to six small companies within it. When you operate like that, it’s very easy to get focused on [one thing].” Departments used to operate in silos. Angela welcomes more interdepartmental collaboration. 

“We do have two individuals that serve as Whole Family coordinators, so that when people come to the agency with needs, they will refer them to other departments, but they are not the only area of contact for Whole Family,” Angela says. “Whole Family needs to be the focus of all our case managers within our organization.” For example, does a Business Seed client need quality childcare? “Getting people to think and shift into that mindset of not just what they came in the door for, but how can we help them more completely.” TAP also refers to partners and other agencies in the community. 

TAP’s work supports four major areas: Education & Employment, Domestic Violence & Family Services, Financial Services, and Housing. “Each of those areas focus on helping families with sustainability,” Angela explains. “I think we can further that sustainability and independence of those families by making sure we follow the Whole Family approach. We can really impact them in a much greater way if we’re helping them with all of the services we can provide to them.”

TAP’s Community Development Impact

Throughout Angela’s tenure with TAP, she has had a hand in the success of dozens of community development initiatives. She’s particularly proud of the Terrace Apartments project. TAP acquired the building and renovated it. Built in the late 40s, this building now provides 187 units for low-income families. “In Roanoke right now there’s concern about affordable housing, so it’s important those units remain affordable housing for the community,” she says.

TAP recently became the land bank for the City of Roanoke. “We help other non-profit developers with the acquisition of property, so they can develop them into affordable housing,” Angela explains. Through these efforts, vacant property goes back on the tax rolls. These structures also foster community improvement.

Another project Angela cites is a five-year block grant program in the Pinehurst Heights and Thomastown neighborhoods of Bath County. TAP renovated about 27 structures for owner-occupied families. This included rebuilds and renovations. “This was truly a partnership working with Bath County,” Angela says.

Continuing a Legacy

“We are so appreciative of the work that [former TAP Presidents] Ted Edlich and Annette Lewis did. We stand on their shoulders,” she states. “They are giants in the Community Action world. We’re picking up the mantle from them and carrying the organization forward.” They listened to this community at TAP’s beginning; we enter our 60th year listening to the needs and challenges of individuals and families in our community today. “Until we eradicate poverty from this valley, we will have work to do.” It’s an enormous task, Angela admits. “But when we work together, anything is possible.”

Kasey Scott - March Feature Story

Embracing Hope: The Transformative Power of Advocacy

Kasey Scott has worked hard to get her life on track. She’s beaten a drug addiction and battled homelessness, while working to build the best life for her three kids. When her daughter was non-verbal at the age of four, she reached out to TAP for help. In May 2022, she connected with Daisy Medina, a TAP Head Start home visitor. Since then, things have started looking up.

Kasey’s journey hasn’t been easy. She was living and working at the Daleville Holiday Inn when they closed. Her fiancé has chronic kidney disease, requiring dialysis three times a week. She’s faced challenges getting her daughter into the public school system. Transportation is difficult because she doesn’t have a car.

Daisy serves as an advocate and resource provider for Kasey’s family. Her support has been crucial to helping them endure and overcome barriers. “Daisy has been like an angel to us,” says Kasey. “She has been a godsend and brings us clothes, food if we need it, activities to work on to progress the kids’ speech.” She’s even collected gloves from her grandkids to share with Kasey’s kids. Daisy is advocating to get Kasey’s daughter enrolled in public school by working with school personnel.

Each week, on Tuesday or Thursday, Daisy visits Kasey’s home. “This is something that the kids look forward to every week,” says Kasey. “Daisy has been one of the best teachers I’ve ever had. She genuinely cares for her kids. We’d be literally lost without her.”

Raising three kids while getting clean and being homeless is behind her. Kasey is determined to provide a good home and a better life for the entire family. She feels her kids’ developmental challenges were due to isolation during the pandemic. Kasey commends Daisy for their progress. “For my daughter not to be talking to now full-blown talking. Daisy spending that little bit of time with them has made their life and my life so much better.”

Today, Kasey’s daughter is putting together sentences and reading to her. Her two-year-old son has even started reading. Kasey is clean and looking for work. She credits TAP with giving her and her family the support they needed to thrive.

“TAP has been a godsend for us. It really has,” she says. “I would be really lost without TAP. I really think the world needs to know more about this program.”

Roanoke Gas Investor Spotlight

Investor Spotlight: Roanoke Gas

Celebrating 140 years in business this year, Roanoke Gas was established in 1883. Roanoke became a city just one year earlier. The company has served this community for a long time—not only through gas products and services, but also by improving residents’ well-being. Some of these efforts have occurred in concert with TAP.

“Roanoke Gas has a long, proud history of supporting TAP,” says Paul Nester, President & CEO of RGC Resources, Inc., the parent company of Roanoke Gas. Paul is also currently serving as TAP’s Chair of the Board. “I always admired the helping hand, a hand up more so than a hand out, of TAP,” he states. “We are meeting people where they have a need, eradicating poverty one person at a time.”

“We’ve got a fabulous board,” says Paul. “I like the tripartite nature of it.” This includes TAP clients, elected officials, and private sector leaders. Paul appreciates the diversity of ideas that come from board discussions. “Everyone has their heart and mind in the right place,” he says. Paul isn’t the first Roanoke Gas employee to chair the TAP Board, and other Roanoke Gas staffers participate on TAP committees.

Most recently, Roanoke Gas partnered with TAP and other local organizations on the Healthy Homes Roanoke initiative. This public-private collaboration aims to make homes safer and more comfortable for local families in need. This involves conducting a whole-house review, looking at issues like radon, mold, lead, and more. “We’re part of the HVAC piece,” Paul explains. “People who have benefited from that have had a real demonstrative need.” Roanoke Gas is also a supporter of TAP’s Bringing Hope Home annual campaign, and a sponsor of the agency’s annual meeting.

“As a not-for-profit, TAP does an incredible job of strategic planning,” says Paul. “TAP really is a very special organization. A lot of that is due to its history, its success, its employees. Roanoke Gas is invested in this community, as is TAP. Both are committed to the strength and health of the community. I think it’s incumbent on all of us to maintain that, to make our community a better place to live and work.”

TAP Announces Angela Penn as New President and CEO

The TAP Board of Directors announced on February 20, 2024 that it has appointed Ms. Angela Penn as TAP’s fourth President and CEO, succeeding Ms. Annette Lewis, who earlier in 2023 announced her March 1, 2024  retirement after 35 years of service.

Ms. Penn is currently the Senior Vice President and Director of Real Estate Development and Energy Conservation and Housing Rehab. She has spent 20 years at TAP leading its community and housing development initiatives.  “After a comprehensive, public search process, Angela’s experiences, educational background, leadership and commitment to TAP’s mission clearly have prepared her to be successful as TAP’s next President and CEO,” stated TAP Board Chair and Roanoke Gas President and CEO Paul Nester.

Ms. Penn has overseen successful major renovations of property owned by TAP, including the agency’s Head Start centers and its Terrace Apartments. She is also TAP’s administrator for the City of Roanoke’s Land Bank and serves as the chair of the City’s Equity and Empowerment Advisory Board. Ms. Penn is a former Commissioner on the Roanoke City Planning Commission, having served as chairperson for two years. “Her leadership skills are unquestionable,” stated TAP’s current president, Ms. Annette Lewis.

“I am very happy for Angela and TAP. She is a highly effective leader who is committed to TAP’s mission. Angela is also well respected by both the agency’s 300 plus employees and the community,” added Ms. Lewis.

Ms. Penn accepted the position by stating, “I am humbled and honored to have been selected to serve as the fourth president of TAP. I stand on the shoulders of such accomplished leaders as Bristow Hardin, Jr., Ted Edlich, and Annette Lewis. I look forward to the opportunity to build upon their legacy and move the agency forward in its quest to assist low to moderate income families to achieve their goals and move toward financial independence.”

Ms. Penn will begin her tenure as TAP’s President and CEO immediately after Ms. Lewis’ retirement.

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.”