Mental Health Warrior: Sarah Jane Lawrence

With over 10 years of experience at Family Service of Roanoke Valley, Sarah Jane Lawrence continues to be a vital part of the organization, managing the Teen Outreach Program® and Positive Action.

As a Prevention Programs Manager, she manages both programs by training and supervising the staff, oversees the facilitation of the programs and maintains community partner relations for program quality and success.  In addition, she helps coordinate community events for our youth and families while providing some direct service of group facilitation.

The Teen Outreach Program® (TOP) is a national youth development program that engages 6th-12th grade youth in life skills and community service learning opportunities.  TOP promotes leadership and healthy behaviors as well as academic and adulthood success.  Positive Action is offered to our elementary youth and is a life skills curriculum that fosters a healthy self-concept as well as personal responsibility for one’s overall health and success. 

“I couldn’t wait to work with kids after graduating high school,” Sarah Jane said, “I was lucky enough to work with theater productions and after-school programs where I taught creative arts to young children while taking college courses.”

Originally she was on the path to becoming a teacher, but her passion for non-profit work was strengthening. She loves the impact that prevention programming has on the community and is honored to be a part of such important, healthy outcomes for our youth. 

For Sarah Jane, the reoccurring successes are seeing the youth come back to volunteer long after they have completed these programs. She also loves getting calls and emails regarding job references and college recommendations for former youth participants. 

A recent success story took place last summer when she attended a wedding of two of her former TOP teens.

“It was extremely humbling to be a part of their wedding day and the lasting impact that TOP allows many of us to share beyond the classroom or after school program,” Sarah Jane said.  

At their annual End-of-Year Ceremony, they celebrate all of the youth for being a part of Family Service’s programs and making a difference in their community.  Last year, the entertainment for the night was karaoke and a former student, there with her younger siblings, requested to sing a song with Sarah Jane.  The song was one Sarah Jane had taught her former student 10 years earlier, in her car while going to volunteer. 

“I had no idea that it had left a big enough impression on her that she wanted to recreate that moment,” Sarah Jane said, “She never forgot that song, and it was incredibly special to share that with her in her young adulthood.”  

Sarah Jane has two quotes that she loves and tries to live by constantly:

“We can never know all the good that a simple smile can do.”   Mother Teresa

“Every individual counts, every individual has a role to play, and every individual makes a difference.” Jane Goodall