Sabrina's Place loses grant, needs $146k to stay open

Caitlin Francis/WDBJ7
Caitlin Francis/WDBJ7(WDBJ)
Published: Oct. 4, 2016 at 6:42 PM EDT
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TAP’s Sabrina's Place is the only location in the Roanoke Valley for court-appointed supervised child visitation. Now, it could be closing its doors after losing out on a Department of Justice grant.

Sabrina’s Place, named in memory of Sabrina Reed, a victim of domestic violence. She was killed by her estranged husband during the exchange of their daughter.

Sabrina’s close childhood friend described her as a wonderful daughter, sister, and mother.

“She was just a bubbly person with a great personality. Beautiful smile, and a beautiful person inside and out,” said Tabatha Cooper, a friend of Sabrina’s.

So, Sabrina’s Place became a bright light for children and families, victims of domestic abuse and sexual assault; a safe place for people to go for supervised visitation and exchanges.

But discontinuation of the DOJ grant, means the program will lose funding at the end of this month. While it doesn't mean the visitation site will close immediately, it could be in danger if they don’t raise money by the end of the year, leaving families like Leah Hoover’s wondering what to do.

“When I found out that the funding was going to be gone, it absolutely…I felt like my world shattered…” Hoover said.

She and her son were court-ordered to use Sabrina’s Place after they were both victims of domestic abuse.

"Without this facility, there's no place for those children and those victims, whether male or female, to have a location to feel safe, to have visitation or safe exchange. We need this facility to keep those people safe," Stacey Sheppard, Director of Housing and Human Services for Total Action for Progress, or TAP said.

The vast majority of funding for Sabrina's Place comes from a "Safe Haven" grant issued by DOJ, and would have been for $600-thousand over three years. Applications are due every three years but this cycle required an additional education component for potential providers. Despite having widespread collaboration with various judges, magistrates and court systems, members of TAP say the grant panel claimed there wasn't apparent stakeholder support, and said they TAP didn’t adequately communicate their ability to provide training to the courts. Now—they have to find $146-thousand to operate by January 1st, or they could be forced to close the doors.

“We’re asking for help. We need help, we’re asking for help. We’re asking for community action and we’re asking for people to help us keep our children and our victims safe,” Sheppard said.

Victims like Leah Hoover.

“I came into my relationship as a very strong woman, and I came out of it very weak, and I became somebody that I’m not. I’m happy to very happy to say that after two years I feel really strong now… Without people like Sabrina’s Place and TAP I wouldn’t be where I’m at right now…”

Because of the loss of the grant, Sabrina’s Place isn’t able to take on any new referrals or clients from the courts. They’re also having to make layoffs.

“If everybody can dig deep in their pockets, and give whatever they can…you know, communicate the word to their families and their friends, and anybody that they can think of to donate to Sabrina’s Place, would be great to continue to have this place be open,” Tabatha Cooper said.