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May 2017

IN THIS ISSUE - May 2017

  • Teen Ambassadors of Hope 2017 Kicks Off
  • The Project Presents at Rice University
  • Inaugural Kentucky Derby Viewing Party
  • Advocate Spotlight

 Teen Ambassadors of Hope 2017 Kicks Off

The first segment of the 2017 Teen Ambassadors of Hope training was held on Saturday, April 23rd at Texas Advocacy Project. Twenty-four ambassadors between the ages of 13-18 learned about teen dating violence, healthy relationships, personal branding, and fundraising. The Project’s Legal Director, Bronwyn Blake, facilitated the Healthy Relationships course. After putting the Ambassadors in teams she guided them through a role play activity called In Their Shoes.  They experienced real-life dating violence scenarios and used critical thinking to identify what could be done to prevent and stop these types of issues. Brett Petit, Lake Travis Middle School 8th grader and first year Teen Ambassador of Hope, said “I will be in high school next year and feel I’ve already seen some dating issues among my friends.  I’m on the battle ground at school and feel I can now help them.  In the first training I learned valuable lessons on how to recognize different forms of abuse.  I never knew making threats like ‘I will hurt myself if you don’t go out with me or if you break up with me.’ is a form of abuse.  I am now more prepared and could mentor a friend if something like this happened.”

After a pizza break, former News Anchor/Reporter and Project Board Member Leslie Rhode directed the Personal Branding and Fundraising portions. The focus here was on gaining self-confidence, representing yourself well, and using social media savvy and community awareness to build a fundraiser for a philanthropic cause. Legacy Ambassador and Vandegrift High sophomore Bella Stavrou says, “I enjoy the feeling of working for a cause when I fundraise. It is a good feeling to know that each dollar that is raised will go to a good cause, and that the harder I work, the more people I can help.” The proceeds from the campaign go directly to client services and a scholarship for a child of a former Project client.

The teens have started their campaigns and are now gearing up for their leadership training presented by Dr. Barry Bales of the LBJ School of Public Affairs on June 23rd.  To learn more about Teen Ambassadors of Hope, visit: or

The Project Presents at Rice University

On April 24, Project staff had the honor of presenting to 46 attendees which included students, counselors, and law enforcement officers of Rice University in Houston, Texas. Project attorneys, Bridget O’Shaughnessy and Victoria Rambo, along with Survivor Services & Training Director, Amanda Elkanick, presented on Best Practices of Protective Orders, Intimate Partner Violence and Stalking and Intimate Partner Violence and Digital Abuse.

In 2015 the project added a core value to its mission statement to provide outreach and trainings to universities throughout the state in order to help this at-risk community understand their rights when a sexual assault occurs. According to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, 1 in 5 women and 1 in 16 men are sexually assaulted while in college and more than 90% of sexual assault victims on college campuses do not report the assault.

Inaugural Kentucky Derby Viewing Party

Texas Advocacy Project is excited to announce that its inaugural Kentucky Derby Viewing Party was a great success! A huge thanks to all of our wonderful sponsors: Rustic Tap Beer Garden, Tito's Handmade Vodka, Austin Flower Company, and Carly Blair for making the beautiful garland.

Advocate Spotlight

Staff members from The Bridge Over Troubled Waters in Pasadena, TX prepare to distribute this year’s Handbags for Hope.  Read more from Deputy Director Olivia Rivers.

How does your work/story intersect with TAP’s mission?
The Bridge strives to provide client-centered services for survivors of domestic and sexual violence. Our mission is harmonious to the mission of the Texas Advocacy Project, in that our mission is to offer support, provide safety and prevent domestic and sexual violence. Our story started with humble beginnings in a small home serving six families.  With dedicated volunteers that turned into staff and an incredible Board of Directors, our agency was able to serve as a “bridge” from violence to a life of recovery and peace. Our work fulfills our mission and converges with TAP’s mission by housing survivors in need of shelter; incorporating holistic crisis intervention for clients through support groups, counseling, and advocacy services; and outreaching to the community with personalized trainings and professional presentations to spread awareness and educate.

Why do you support the work TAP does throughout Texas?
The Bridge supports the work of TAP because one of the most intimidating factors in a survivor’s journey, is that of the criminal justice and legal systems. The simple idea of entering a courtroom creates enough fear to make survivors want to drop charges. The legal advocacy that TAP provides is imperative, as so many survivors can never truly move forward when they are still legally attached to their abusers. The Bridge believes that true freedom from abuse requires legal support, and TAP assists individuals with that transition.

What drives you to do the work you do?
There is so much that drives us to do this work, but one of the strongest factors are the children. Tonight 59 young people will sleep in our shelter; and many of those children will have visitation this weekend with those responsible for their abuse or the abuse of their parent. Innumerable clients lack the knowledge, the finances, and the awareness of how to obtain a divorce, custody modifications, or a protective order to keep their families safe. While our services are extensive, one area that we heavily rely on for community support and volunteers, is in legal matters.  Knowing that we can impact future generations motivates us daily. We stand on the words of Frederick Douglass, “It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.” Daily The Bridge works to eradicate the cycle of abuse and end generational violence so that our children can experience violent free homes and lives.