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Hope Herald

Monthly Newsletter

Keep up with everything going on at Texas Advocacy Project

Everyone who works for Texas Advocacy Project is committed to stopping power-based abuse in Texas, and helping each person we serve live free from fear.

IN THIS ISSUE - March 2017


10th Annual Handbags for Hope Drive

The 10th Annual Handbags for Hope drive is currently in full swing! Handbags for Hope is an essential means for Texas Advocacy Project (The Project) to place life-saving legal information in the hands of victims as they transition out of domestic violence shelters and begin the process of rebuilding their lives.  

Here is how the process works:  After The Project receives the handbags, volunteers clean the handbags and fit each one with a discreet tag that lists the Project’s toll-free legal line.  That phone number will always be accessible and is not easily discoverable by an abuser.  Safety planning and economic empowerment pamphlets are also included.  Once the bags are distributed to family violence shelters across Texas, the children there are then able to select one of the handbags to give to their mother on Mother’s Day. 

Handbags for Hope has become well-known throughout the state and shelters have come to rely on these bags as critical resources.  Erin Cooper, Community Relations Coordinator at SAFE, the new merger between Austin Children’s Shelter and SafePlace, recently commented, “We at SAFE so appreciate the support from Texas Advocacy Project and the bags they donate through the Handbags for Hope drive. We serve many different individuals with numerous unique needs, and we count on organizations like The Project to help us make sure we always have whatever they request on hand. Thank you!”

As a new addition this year, The Project has partnered with Juliet Ristorante on Barton Springs Road for a Hope Brunch to mark the final week of handbag collections. This event is the perfect opportunity to enjoy an Italian American style brunch in a beautiful setting and complete your handbag donations.  See the Upcoming Events section for link to purchase tickets.  A portion of every ticket sold will be graciously donated to Texas Advocacy Project.

The Handbags for Hope Drive will run thru March 31st. Drop off locations are listed on our website, If you would like to donate new or gently used purses or would like to be a drop off location, please contact, Jose Paez, Project Manager, at

Texas Advocacy Project Slated to Present at the National Conference Crimes Against Women

For the second year, the team at Texas Advocacy Project is presenting at the Conference on Crimes Against Women (CCAW) held in Dallas on May 22-25, 2017.  Now in its 12th year, the conference is co-hosted by The Dallas Police Department and the Genesis Women’s Shelter.  Nearly 2,000 responder and advocate professionals employed in government, non-profit, and law enforcement agencies attend the conference to receive practical training, up-to-date information, and strategies to combat the varied crimes against women.

In 2016 Amanda Elkanick Odor, Survivor Services &Training Director for The Project, presented a workshop titled Best Practices in Protective Orders.  The attendance (+300) and feedback were so great that The Project was invited back this year and asked to present four workshops! 

In order to cover more topics Amanda will be joined by Bronwyn Blake, J.D., Legal Director for The Project.  The team will combine their experiences and expertise to present:   Best Practices in Protective Orders, Coordinated Community Response Between Military & Civilian Communities, Intimate Partner Violence & Sexual Assault in Veteran Treatment Courts, and A Look at Campus Sexual Assault & Reporting Requirements.

The keynote speaker kicking off the CCAW is Leslie Morgan Steiner, the New York Times bestselling author of Crazy Love, her 2009 memoir about surviving domestic violence.  She is also the subject of the first TED Talk given by a domestic violence survivor which takes listeners inside the devastating world of abusive love.

For registration and more information visit

Teen Ambassadors of Hope Campaign Now Accepting Applications


Jose Rangel, Of Counsel at Cantilo & Bennett, L.L.P. here in Austin, has served on The Project’s Board of Directors since 2013 and is currently presiding as Board Chair.

Although legal services are a large priority for The Project, Rangel has come to understand that survivor empowerment, including emotional and moral support, is crucial.  He said, “The Project, in addition to providing legal services, helps victims find their voice, acknowledge their self-worth, and advocate for themselves.  Our support ultimately affords victims of abuse, as well as their children, opportunities for a safer, healthier, and more wholesome life.”

One client story that inspires Rangel to continue his service is one of a young women who first needed free legal services as a teenager.  Through these services and personal strength the survivor went on to earn an undergraduate degree, attend law school and land her first position as an associate counsel for a major corporation. 

As board chair, Rangel plans to build upon the prior successes of The Project by further spreading the message that all Texans live safely in hope, not fear, and to widen the reach and extent of its services.  He supports full funding for the work The Project does with Texas Council on Family Violence and Texas Association Against Sexual Assault to identify policy that boosts clients’ personal safety.


Sarah Manning developed an interest in the domestic violence movement while studying for her master’s degree. She recognized the complexity, fear, and danger that survivors are faced with as they navigate through the convoluted legal system in order to leave their abuser. With that in mind, she wanted to help make it easier for survivors to start the process and help them feel supported as well as safe. Sarah says she loves working at The Women’s Shelter of South Texas because it allows her to work directly with clients in crisis. She is also able to educate the community and join forces with community partners to help support victims of family violence, which adds to a survivor’s support system. She is incredibly proud that the Women’s Shelter is able to help so many people change their lives for the better.

Sarah refers clients to Texas Advocacy Project for legal aid when she needs extra help. Roadblocks and concerns with protective orders, divorces, child support, or questions dealing with technical legal issues are all reasons she leans/relies on Texas Advocacy Project.

Brandy Howard, Staff Attorney at The Project, has had the pleasure of working with Sarah Manning on several cases. Brandy said, “She is a strong advocate for her clients. Sara serves as a comforting support for the clients with whom she works. And she is active in assisting clients with their family law cases. Whether it’s printing out documents, filing documents at the district clerk's office, or accompanying clients to court, Sara is right by her clients' side”. 

Thank you, Sarah, for the important and amazing work that you do!


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