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THRIVE Participant Perspective--Second Chance at Renewing Self, Inc

Updated: Mar 4, 2021

Each Friday, we'll bring you the perspective of a nonprofit in our THRIVE accelerator program and share a little about their organization.

Second Chance At Renewing Self, Inc

This session of THRIVE, facilitated as always by our partners at The Spark Mill, covered Equity in Storytelling by Sarah Milston. We asked the team from S.C.A.R.S. to tell us about their experience this week.

What are you hoping to get out of this program?

Sonja Holt, Executive Director: I knew about THRIVE and was at the first celebration. To have the opportunity to gain insight, get tools, strategies, and mentorship, was a once in a lifetime opportunity. Hopefully this will take us to the next level in our development.

Nita McKnight, Board Member: I was hoping to learn the intricacies of nonprofits. This is giving me a better insight on how they run, how our nonprofit should run.

What did you learn, or feel spoke to you about today?

Tionya Wilson, Board Member: We are who we serve. We have the same personal life experiences. The thing that keeps ringing true to me, was last week what Damon [Jiggets from Peter Paul] said, that we’re not the experts, even though we've been through these experiences. Sarah's worksheet will be helpful. She mentioned, how do they [clients, community] wish to be spoken about?

Nita: There was more participation today, I could feel the energy. I could feel the passion. I have that passion about this equity, racism issue. The storytelling piece was important, the words we use. We are the people we serve. We are our clients. We're dealing with a human issue of domestic violence. Because we have these personal experiences, we’re able to use the correct words when describing these situations. To consider from others, how they want to be described, was a plus for us too.

Tionya: I just loved when someone named the issue. You have to speak to people on their level. [We discussed] white people being confronted with racism. We could have talked about this all day.

Tell us about your experience in the program

Sonja: We were able to dig in. The first day, mission/vision/values, we did a lot of work on that. We came in with no vision statement, and we developed one. We revamped our mission statement to be more concise and user-friendly. We're about to hone our values more and develop universal language that can be used for every board member who talks about S.C.A.R.S.

Tionya: I enjoyed the workshop about board roles--knowing what we should be doing as a board to help the organization grow. I liked all of [the sessions], but that one stood out. Having a strong board will get us to have a strong organization.

Nita: Board governance session was one of my key pieces. I’m still learning. As we grow, we want to be accountable to our community and have to take this role seriously.

How do you see this applying to your organization?

Sonja: I knew that we needed to do more. I enjoyed that Sarah spoke about stories, collecting them proactively and consistently. Sharing not just for funders but also for individuals looking for our services, to share the stories of others who have had wins. [The mentality of] they did it, I can too.

We have a list of what we’d like to work on. We'd like to develop an empowerment community, where survivors can have a space for themselves to talk and network with one another. Perhaps on Slack.


Second Chance At Renewing Self (S.C.A.R.S.) provides aftercare services for survivors of intimate partner and domestic violence. Through grassroots and holistic efforts, they support those who have experienced abuse. They offer educational workshops and programs and services that provide encouragement and support to empower survivors to move forward in their healing process, to ultimately live a life free from abuse. They offer the Overcomers Club, Support Group, Chill Girl, and HEAL Transitional Fund.

Stats: 1 in 4 women and 1 in 7 men will experience domestic violence at some time in their lifetime.

The THRIVE accelerator program provides an opportunity to look beyond the current challenges and obstacles and plan out a direct and streamlined path forward. Organizations will spend concentrated time planning and executing real-time solutions with guided facilitation.

The second cohort focuses on helping organizations engage leading practices in program design, community engagement, board development, fundraising, storytelling, and HR/operations with a racial equity lens. This experience creates a set time for teams of boards and staff to come together to look at their organization holistically and then apply what they are learning to their specific context.

THRIVE was created through collaboration between The Collaboratory of Virginia and The Spark Mill, and is currently sponsored by Carmax, Robins Foundation, and Virginia Community Capital.

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