TAP President Announces Upcoming Retirement

After 35 years of service to Total Action for Progress (TAP), Annette Lewis, its current president and CEO, will retire effective March 1, 2024. Mrs. Lewis became TAP’s president & CEO in May 2015.

Mrs. Lewis states, “My journey with TAP has been an amazing one. I started as a temporary employee 35 years ago, unsure that I would be asked to remain. I am so grateful that my supervisors and TAP’s president for 40 years, Ted Edlich, decided to keep me. Working at TAP has been tremendously rewarding. I have enjoyed seeing hope return to the eyes of the families we assist and the successes they’ve achieved. I have been amazed by the work of the staff that pour their best efforts into the lives of others to support them and celebrate with them during each accomplishment. I have been richly blessed to work with an administrative staff and team of senior leaders who are among the most talented, committed professionals that I have ever had the pleasure to work with. I am indebted to a board of directors who had confidence in me, provide valuable guidance, contribute to the success of the agency, and continue to believe in TAP’s mission. With the help of each group that I’ve mentioned, TAP is strong, effective, and will make an impact across the region and state for years to come. I will remain eternally grateful for the opportunity that has been given to me to contribute to this outstanding organization.”

TAP Chairman Paul Nester expressed the Board of Directors’ “deep appreciation for Mrs. Lewis’ years of successful leadership of TAP,” and acknowledged the “numerous contributions made by Mrs. Lewis to the communities and citizens that TAP serves.” Nester further commented that the board of directors will soon begin a search for Mrs. Lewis’ replacement.  

Supporter Spotlight: Damon Williams

Damon Williams joined the staff of First Citizens Bank more than 23 years ago. He says they were already supporting TAP at that time. In the last three years, though, the relationship has expanded significantly. It’s due, in large part, to a $50 million grant fund,  which provides CRA-qualified philanthropic giving through 2025. This allows the bank to distribute monies in the communities it serves. “Through this benefits plan, we were able to provide more support,” Damon says.

Homegrown and headquartered in North Carolina, First Citizens is now the largest family-controlled bank in the country. “I was born and raised in Roanoke and familiar with TAP services in the community,” Damon explains. “TAP has been around this community for a very long time.” He sought to expand the relationship between the two institutions. “It was a great fit.”

The increased giving focus began through a 2020 initiative. It’s part of First Citizens’ five-year, $16 billion Community Benefits Plan that builds on the bank’s ongoing work to reinvest in low- and moderate-income communities and neighborhoods of color. The plan focuses on three areas: community development lending and investments, mortgages, and small business loans. Through this new effort, organizations can also apply for grants to fund programs.

TAP received $25,000 this year for our free Tax Clinic after applying for a grant. The bank doesn’t just provide money for the Tax Clinic, though. Over the years, First Citizens employees have volunteered their time to help complete tax returns for those we serve. “We try to participate and give back to the community as well,” says Damon.  

He practices what he preaches outside of work as well. Damon serves on the TAP Property Committee and has been involved in our Business Seed program. “That’s given me great perspective on what they [TAP] do,” he says.  

In his spare time, Damon runs Twin Hoops with his twin brother, Ramon, as a community service. The duo started this grassroots effort 27 years ago. Services are offered year-round, including basketball training and a summer camp for children ages 7–15. Most recently, Twin Hoops has supported basketball travel teams and tournaments. “We’re open to all participants who want to improve their skill set as players but also be good people in their communities,” explains Damon. “We do not turn anyone away. We want to give every kid an opportunity to participate and enjoy a fun, structured environment around basketball. We feel basketball is a game of life, too.” This summer, 250 came through the summer camp program.

Damon is currently a business development officer with First Citizens. Prior to that he was a community development officer. “We’re proud to be a supporter of TAP and the programs they provide,” he says. “We know they do the work that we don’t see on the surface, but behind the scenes in trying to provide quality services, affordable services, and we’re proud to help support the mission that they do. Of course, they’re wonderful people to work with, too.”

An orange life saver is hanging on a white wall

How to Help Someone Who Is Experiencing Domestic Violence

Nearly one in every four women and one in seven men have experienced domestic abuse. Despite how frequently it occurs, most don’t know how to help when domestic violence happens to someone they know.

One commonly asked question is, “Why don’t they just leave?”

Most domestic violence situations are complicated by multiple factors. Abusers use fears as leverage in order to trap a survivor or limit their options. For example, a male client once told us he stayed with his abuser because he felt it would make his kids safer. He said that if she was hitting him, then he knew she wasn’t hitting their kids. To him, this was far more important than his own physical safety. Further complicating the matter, many male survivors perceive that they will struggle in court to prove that they are victims of abuse and that they should retain sole custody of their children.

Listen and empower

Each situation is different. The best thing you can do to help is to be an advocate—listen and support, offer counsel, but always remember that abuse is a form of control. Empowering survivors means encouraging them to make their own decisions. After all, they’re the ones who have to live with the consequences.

Making sure victims don’t feel alone is also important. Abusers are often able to perpetuate their abuse because they isolate their victims. Refer them to a domestic violence hotline, such as our 24/7 help hotline at 540-580-0775. You can also click here to learn more about our program for domestic violence survivors.

How to help if you think someone is in danger

Learning these facts will help you become more informed, but it’s only the first step. Research and share information about the resources in your area. Recommending specific resources and how they help can increase the likelihood of the person using those resources—it could make the difference between life and death.

If you or someone you know has been abused, TAP Domestic Violence Services has a 24/7 hotline at 540-580-0775. If you are unsure of the local resources in your region, call the U.S. National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233. We can all be a source of hope.

Dr. Johns Joins the Team!

TAP has worked to improve the lives of those in our community for decades, from providing free childcare to protecting survivors of domestic violence to helping jumpstart new careers, and more.  TAP has mostly relied on grant funding; however, grant restrictions make it difficult to provide all of the services that families need.  Additionally, sometimes grants that meet major needs are discontinued adversely impacting the community. With more unrestricted funds, TAP can enhance its support of our community. For that reason, we’re excited to welcome Dr. David Johns, TAP’s newly hired Director of Fund Development!

Strengthening Local Communities

Dr. Johns graduated from Malone University with a degree in religious studies, earned master’s degrees in theology and library science, and was awarded a Ph.D. from Duquesne University. Dr. Johns then spent many years as a professor of religion and philosophy, teaching in Ohio and Indiana. He became increasingly involved with organizational leadership and became a college vice president in southeastern Kentucky. Most recently, Dr. Johns served as president of Ferrum College.

Throughout his career in higher education, Dr. Johns has been committed to improving the lives of those in need. After finishing his doctorate, he spent a sabbatical working with a nonprofit in Mexico City that focused on addressing poverty and strengthening local communities. As president of Ferrum College, Dr. Johns worked with local community leaders, elected officials, and other supporters to develop resources to support student success, especially students from families of great need. Throughout his administrative work in higher education, Dr. Johns has managed institutional budgets, overseen fundraising efforts, done strategic planning and assessment, and has been involved with alumni and community relations, all to support the institutions he has served.

Right at Home

Although he didn’t grow up in the area, Dr. Johns says that he and his wife, Susan, a speech therapist in the Roanoke City Public Schools, feel at home in the Roanoke Valley where they have lived for nearly six years. The mission of TAP resonates with him. Growing up in rural Appalachia, Dr. Johns has worked in and supported many small towns and communities. “It’s personal for me,” he notes. “If I had grown up in the Roanoke Valley, my family would have been served by TAP.”

We’re thrilled to have Dr. Johns join our family and look forward to seeing how his skill and passion for helping others can further TAP’s efforts in the communities we serve.

To donate to TAP, click here!

How One Class is Changing Teens’ Futures

Before entering her first year at William Fleming High School, Ireland Maxey was nervous. Nervous about her new school, nervous about taking more difficult classes, and nervous about her future.

Expanding Horizons

During her first semester, she took African American Culture and Contemporary Issues (AACCI), a class offered by TAP in partnership with the school. It gave Ireland the guidance she needed to be excited about her high school journey and beyond. AACCI teaches the diverse history and culture of Africa and examines the experiences of Black people in America, all while teaching students a myriad of useful skills, from conflict resolution to mindfulness. Project Discovery, a TAP program, works in tandem with AACCI to prepare students for college success. Lateefah Trent, Project Discovery’s program coordinator, states, “Our biggest goal is to show students that there is something beyond the zip code they live in.” Once in class, Ireland blossomed.

“After a few weeks in class, she became less reserved,”says Antonio Stovall, who teaches AACCI. “She started asking meaningful questions about history and cultural identity. Then she began thinking more about college… Her overall outlook on life changed.” Now, thanks to AACCI and Project Discovery, Ireland plans to graduate high school early and attend college.

Thinking Beyond High School

“I want to major in psychology after learning about mindfulness in class,” says Ireland. “If not for AACCI, I would have never learned how to meditate. Now I use meditation any time I’m feeling stressed.” Recently, Project Discovery has taken to the outdoors, leading students on hikes, through ropes courses, and on other confidence building and stress-reducing excursions meant to both broaden students’ horizons and reinforce the benefits of outdoor activity on physical and mental health. Antonio sees these trips as integral to Ireland’s success.

Not many students have the initiative to participate outside of class, but “when we have activities outside of school, like hikes or wilderness survival classes, Ireland is always there,” he says.

Together, AACCI and Project Discovery have given Ireland a new perspective and the tools she needs to achieve her goals. Given the programs’ impact on her, Antonio says he sees Ireland “going on to college and doing great things.”

Learn more

To learn more about this program, email Lateefah.trent@nulltapintohope.org.  

Supporter Spotlight: Roanoke Higher Education Center

In order to serve over 5,000 people each year, TAP relies on the help of community partners. This is especially true of the Roanoke Higher Education Center (RHEC). Not only are they a sponsor of our Bringing Hope Home campaign, but the building also houses several TAP programs.

A One-Stop Shop

Located in downtown Roanoke, the RHEC provides a state-of-the-art facility for colleges and workforce agencies. Kay Dunkley, executive director of the RHEC, explains, “The Center was established to provide access to education and training opportunities to meet the needs of the citizens of our localities.” The similarities in our missions made the move of TAP’s This Valley Works youth and adult education programs to the RHEC a natural next step. This addition made the RHEC a one-stop shop for those hoping to improve their lives through education and job training.

“The RHEC has been home to This Valley Works for more than 20 years. It not only houses the majority of our programs but serves as a learning tool to our students. Sharing the same hallways and classrooms as college students helps our students understand that they really aren’t different; they are equal and can succeed in a world that has always seemed a distant, unachievable dream to many,” explains Jo Nelson, director of TAP This Valley Works.

Serving the Community Together

Kay notes that the services of TAP and the RHEC dovetail perfectly to serve the community. “TAP, through all their programs—Head Start, Project Discovery, workforce readiness, housing assistance, veterans, etc.—contribute[s] to the quality of life of the citizens of our region. RHEC’s mission is aligned,” she says.  “Both our organizations contribute to creating a productive workforce and lending support to human capital results in positive economic development.”

Reinforcing their support of this shared mission, the RHEC has been an annual sponsor of TAP’s Bringing Hope Home campaign. Kay notes that she’s seen firsthand how TAP helps individuals in the region achieve their goals. “TAP gives hope to so many people in our community to better their lives,” she says. “Securing affordable housing means folks can support their families. Earning job skills results in increased earnings. Having a TAP mentor and/or a coach who believes in you gives you confidence and motivation to be a better person. All of these things boost changes for success!”

Here at TAP, we are incredibly grateful for the support of the Roanoke Higher Education Center and look forward to continuing our partnership in creating opportunities for education in our community. If you’d like to become a Bringing Hope Home sponsor and contribute to change in your community, contact Robin Reynolds at robin.reynolds@nulltapintohope.org or 540.283.4866.

Children play outside at Craig County Child Care Center

TAP Head Start Partnership in Craig County

Before Craig County Child Care Center existed, the area’s only option for early childhood education was a half-day preschool open three days per week. Once the Center opened, families had more reliable childcare. But as the only licensed provider in Craig, the community’s need surpassed what the Center could provide–that’s where TAP Head Start came in.

A Successful Partnership

The partnership began in 2016 when TAP provided funding for eight children to attend the Center tuition-free. The partnership has since grown to slots for 26 children.

“When we partnered with Head Start originally, we were operating on a shoestring budget. This has really grown our facility,” says Teresa Oliver, the Center’s executive director.

TAP also helped the Center improve its service quality through curriculum selection and staff training. “We use a high-quality curriculum that we didn’t use before. Hygiene and health has become a focus of ours, so all of our children brush their teeth every morning and get dental checks every year. All of our children get vision checks every year. That’s not something that was happening, especially in a rural community like ours,” says Teresa.

All Center staff now have Child Development Associate (CDA) credentials and an endorsement in early childhood, and some, Teresa says, “have completed the advanced certificate program at Virginia Western.”

Beyond Childcare

Teresa notes that the partnership’s benefits go beyond childcare. “It’s helped with parents being able to go to work,” she says. “If you didn’t have a quality childcare center that you felt comfortable and safe sending your kids to, then how did you work outside of the home? Now that we have these paid-for slots, we’ve had more families that have been able to go to work and have an income.”

One such parent is Kristin Foster, a single mom. With reliable childcare, she’s been free to work toward her associate degree and the next step in her career.

“I want to thank TAP and the Center for everything they do…,” Kristin says. “They always go above and beyond.”

Find out more about TAP Head Start

Click here to find out more about our early childhood education programs.

Spotlight: Bringing Hope Home Sponsors

As our 2022–2023 fundraising year comes to a close, we’d like to take a moment to thank this year’s sponsors of our Bringing Hope Home campaign.

Hope Sponsors

American National Bank & Trust Company

Member One

Wells Fargo

Empower Sponsors

Carter Bank & Trust

Delta Dental of Virginia

Marsh & McLennan Agency

Network Computing Group, Inc.

Pinnacle Financial Partners

Roanoke Gas Company

Spilman Thomas & Battle, PLLC

Courage Sponsors

Bank of Botetourt

Roanoke Valley Orthodontics

Inspire Sponsors

Brown Edwards & Company

Carilion Clinic

First Citizens Bank

J.M. Ford & Associates

Roanoke Higher Education Center

Woods Rogers Vandeventer Black

Through the generosity of these fundraising partners, we can continue to provide hope and pathways to success for our neighbors in need. We thank them and applaud their commitment to making our community a place where everyone can thrive.

Join Us

If you’d like to become a sponsor and create change in your community, please contact Robin Reynolds at robin.reynolds@nulltapintohope.org or 540.283.4866.

Campaign Update: Bringing Hope Home

After having surpassed prior years’ goals for our annual fundraising campaign, Bringing Hope Home, we are excited to bring you a progress report! We set this year’s goal to $300,000 and are happy to report that we’re on track to surpass this goal! As a result of the support of generous people and businesses, TAP has continued to lessen the burden of poverty in southwest Virginia.

Fire is the Test of Gold

With the onset of COVID-19 in early 2020, TAP worked to provide the same services we’re known for, as well as short-term crisis support. Now that the public health emergency has ended, we’ve shifted our focus to helping people rebuild their lives and communities. By providing job training, small business support, and more, TAP is strengthening the communities where we work.

You Mean the World to Us

Without your gifts, we couldn’t have met the needs of thousands of families in the region this year. Look for more details in our coming annual report about the impact you helped bring about. In the meantime, know that your support has truly been a blessing.

Thank you to all who have donated money or time to TAP over the past year. Bringing Hope Home provides funds that can be drawn on by TAP to support any of our programs, as needed. Because of your help, we can continue to sustain and create new pathways for low-income people in our community to build stable, full lives.

Make your gift today!

Man holding a binder smiles at the camera in a classroom

Youth Leadership Programs Launched

Djuan Hankins is passionate about helping youth athletes. He’s been coaching girls’ and boys’ basketball for 19 years and been the head JV girls coach at William Fleming for the last six. This experience made him a natural choice to spearhead TAP’s Coaching Boys Into Men (CBIM) and girl-focused Athletes as Leaders (AAL) programs as our youth services specialist. Both programs help coaches and other community members learn to empower youth to stand up for respect, integrity, and non-violence.

In 2020, two TAP staff members and a representative from Roanoke City Police Department flew out to California to receive training and certification in these evidence-based programs. Progress was slowed due to the pandemic and customizing content and training for local needs, but the local roll-out began in earnest this year. Our community is now the only one in Virginia offering these programs.

Train the Trainer

This “train the trainer” initiative focuses on reaching youth by training community advocates. Anyone who works with youth—coaches, probation officers, police, social workers, counselors, and more—is a good candidate for this training. Djuan, along with our youth services manager Lateefah Trent, has condensed the curriculum into a single 3-hour training session.  

Once trained, advocates are ready to implement the program with the youth they work with. The curriculum is designed for 12 weeks, but flexible. Program materials are scripted, making them easy to put into action. They focus on behaviors, discipline, and how youth carry themselves outside a team setting. Coaches and other youth advocates present weekly material in 15-minute chunks, then discuss the topic with players. “As coaches we already have those conversations, but this helps you go a little more in depth and know what topics to bring up,” says Djuan.  

The Main Goal: Reduce Youth Violence

The initiative’s overall goal is to reduce violence. Many kids witness violence in their homes and communities. CBIM and AAL help students recognize disrespectful or dangerous behavior and intervene safely. It also teaches leadership skills, respect for others, and gender and racial equality. These are talks most participants aren’t having at home. 

“The program is pretty much set up to be catered for sports teams,” says Djuan. “They’re the pillars and leaders in the school. If we can reach the athletes and reach their mindsets, they can carry it out through the school. But we have opened it up to all young men and women. Studies have shown that students who have participated in the program are most likely to intervene in abusive behaviors. Kids think that abusive behavior is normal behavior because they see it so much.”

Getting Results

Seventeen youth advocates have already completed local certification training. William Fleming and Patrick Henry High School cheerleaders, Patrick Henry wrestlers, and students from Fishwick Middle School have participated. Athletes complete pre- and post-season assessments that measure mindset, behavioral, and communication changes. The program is already proving to effect positive change in the kids and families it touches. 

This year’s goal is to certify 20 advocates. Training is free, and so is the program. Djuan is looking for coaches, police officers, and others who work as youth advocates in the community. Plans are for training to be offered every quarter.

Learn More

For more information on this FREE certification, please contact djuan.hankins@nulltapintohope.org or lateefah.trent@nulltapintohope.org.

Carilion’s Support for TAP

Carilion doesn’t just provide healthcare for those in southwest Virginia. They also invest in the health and vitality of their community. Carilion has been a sponsor of TAP’s Bringing Hope Home campaign for the past three years. They provide much-needed support to our efforts to bring hope to the community. Carilion’s support for TAP has allowed us to continue providing help to those in need.

Carilion’s Support for TAP Goes Further

Carilion has gone beyond providing financial support in the past. They have demonstrated their commitment to supporting TAP. In the past Carilion has been a partner in our adult education and employment services. This partnership formed through our Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) training program. Carilion worked with us to provide a pathway to a career in healthcare. Carilion’s support helped make this program accessible. Many people who faced barriers to employment were able to complete it. They now have stable and rewarding healthcare careers. Carilion’s support for TAP has helped give them a path to a brighter future.

They Believe in Our Community

By investing in the community Carilion is helping to create a stronger community. They are helping to make a more robust community. Through support for TAP’s initiatives Carilion has shown their commitment to this community. Their efforts are making a significant difference in the lives of people in the Roanoke Valley. They are bringing hope and support to those who need it the most.
Local partners like Carilion are critical. They make our efforts to create a better future for all possible. By investing in the community in this way, Carilion is making a significant contribution to the region’s growth and development. According to Nancy Agee, Carilion’s CEO, “We are pleased to join with agencies like TAP whose goals and values are aligned with our mission to improve the health of the communities we serve.”   They are setting an example for others to follow.

Ending the cycle of violence

Gun violence is a national epidemic. The African American Culture and Contemporary Issues (AACCI) classes are part of TAP’s answer to curbing the issue locally.

Changing Dropout Rates and More

Started in 2008, the class originally aimed to reduce Black male dropout rates at William Fleming High School. This fall, it launched an open-to-the-public initiative. Based on the Fleming curriculum, this Saturday program is available to anyone age 15 or older. Both programs follow the school year calendar. Part African American history, part empowerment strategies, part holistic health, AACCI is changing lives.

“This program is catered toward building your self-worth, empowering you to be a leader, as well as knowing when you need to follow,” says Lateefah Trent, youth services and education manager at TAP. “It’s learning how to not only think of yourself when you’re in a situation, but those around you in your communities and your home; leading by example.”  

A Holistic Approach

In 2020, Antonio Stovall was tapped to manage this legacy program. He began revamping the curriculum after he was hired. Antonio integrated holistic approaches born from a tragic personal experience. “The man who my mother was in a relationship with, who she had just broken up with, had taken her life,” says Antonio. “After it happened, I could go on the path of self-destruction or [the] path of bettering myself. Reading more, working out more, eating better, studying any type of information about holistic wellness, healing, nutrition. I learned from lots of people from around the country, went to Egypt, and started teaching mindfulness, yoga, and martial arts in the community.”

With his experience, alternative education research, and natural talent for fostering relationships, Antonio created a class structure that works. “What we’re noticing is since the pandemic everything has changed. How students learn, how teachers need to teach,” he says. “This program could be a model for what is needed to rebuild that class and the environment when it comes to learning.”

Impacting Generations

The benefits of AACCI didn’t stop with high school students. “Eventually, it started having an impact on the parents as well because they started to see a difference in how their child was acting,” says Antonio. Soon, adults were asking about the class, and TAP’s “Whole Family” focus made open Saturday classes a natural next step. “The conversations are a lot more diverse. You have different age groups that are part of the class. That just makes the class a lot more interesting because of all the different perspectives,” says Antonio.

“I think one of the biggest reasons why Antonio’s approach works above and beyond the method is because he approaches every individual as an individual,” says Lateefah. “He doesn’t come off as the head honcho in the room. He believes in equality for all and that everyone has a voice.”

The class has made an invaluable impact on the community­—AACCI participants have left gangs, learned to appreciate school, and ended suicide plans. “This was created for our most at risk youth, but what we discovered is everyone needs it,” says Lateefah. “The more you recognize yourself, the more power you have over dealing with things.”

See You on Saturday!

We invite anyone age 15 or older to join us for this FREE class every Saturday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. until June at the Roanoke Higher Education Center. To register, please contact Lateefah.trent@nulltapintohope.org.