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August 2022: Letter from the Director

“The month of August had turned into a griddle where the days just lay there and sizzled.”

– Sue Monk Kidd

The early days of summer always have me wishing for a long season of lemonade weather and long evenings before the sun sets. But, by this time every summer when I’ve lost count of the mosquito bites and walking out the door feels like walking into a bowl of soup, thick and hot, I start dreaming about autumn weather. Maybe because I come from a family of educators, August’s run up to the start of school always felt more like a new year than the actual New Year. The “back to school” vibe has my attention turning to all the new beginnings that we have ahead of us here at SARA.

This fall SARA will kick off our strategic planning process. This is a galvanizing and critically important opportunity as a community to set the direction for SARA. If the pandemic has taught us anything, it is that we must always be looking ahead for new ways to grow and meet the community’s needs. We have formed a Strategic Planning Committee made up of staff and board members. We will be reaching out to various important stakeholders in the coming months as we build our plan.

We are also excited to have new staff joining us this month! Kay Robertson is joining us as our Justice Systems Advocate. They are a terrific addition to our Client Services team; they will work with survivors within the carceral system and those who have come out of the carceral system. Men, women, and nonbinary folks who are incarcerated experience sexual abuse at higher rates than the unincarcerated population and, yet, are too often underserved. Kay’s work will help ensure that these survivors can find paths toward healing. Lindsey Hayes is joining the team as our new Adult Advocate. Serving Charlottesville, Albemarle, and the UVA community, Lindsey will provide emotional support and advocacy to women, men, and nonbinary adults as they process their experience and navigate various systems.

The work that our teams accomplish—be it our advocates, preventionists, therapists, or outreach—do work that can be heavy and hard. There is no denying that. It is also work that is rooted in hope. Friends like you contribute to that hope for healing. With that in mind, we are also eagerly planning our second annual Twilight Toast as a way to connect with our supporters and friends. This year, we will be on the rooftop of The Graduate hotel on October 13th. Save the date and be on the lookout for more details!

So, as we are in the waning dog days of summer, enjoy the ice cream before it melts. The leaves will be falling again soon. Gratefully,

Renee Branson

Executive Director

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