Roanoke's Total Action for Progress expanding services to reach more people

Shayne Dwyer/WDBJ7
Shayne Dwyer/WDBJ7(WDBJ)
Published: May. 19, 2017 at 7:24 PM EDT
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Domestic Violence speaks all languages. Roanoke's Total Action For Progress is expanding its services to reach more people. Roanoke at the TAP building with this story.

About six months ago, TAP received a grant to reach out to the non-English speaking population. And they've received a profound response.

TAP has served domestic violence victims for nearly as long as its been around. And now it's helping even more people.

"We got a grant with a partnership with Family Service to seek out limited English proficiency clients," TAP Housing And Human Services Director Stacey Sheppard said.

Many in the Roanoke Valley are proud of its diversity. But that same diversity can inadvertently cause a barrier.

"They're not easily understood so there's that emergency crisis there and they're more at risk at that moment and crisis," Sheppard said.

Thanks to the grant, TAP says its caseload of non-English speaking domestic violence victims has shot through the roof, tripling in the last year. The majority of them are Spanish speakers.

"It's how can I be of assistance, I assure them that we're not connected with immigration because that's one of their fears," TAP Bilingual Family Support Counselor Veronica Garcia said.

The 24/7 domestic violence hotline is set up to handle translations. And no matter the legal status, they're given help.

"In my point of view it's very important because we're trying to save lives. Domestic Violence is not just mental and physical harm, it can get to the point of a fatality," Garcia said.

TAP is also promoting its services through culture specific outlets. It's all an effort to reach everyone it can.

TAP is primarily funded by grants and donations so they operate on a tight budget. There isn't a whole lot of room to add more paid staff with language training. So anyone who can speak another language, including Spanish or even sign language, would be a huge asset as a volunteer translator.