IN THIS ISSUE - December 2019
As 2019 comes to a close, I’m excited to share some highlights from our 37th year! We are incredibly happy to know we were able to serve nearly 11,000 survivors in over 4,600 Texas cases. In addition:
- We had a very busy legislative session. Both our Chief Legal Counsel (formerly titled Legal Director) Bronwyn Blake and I testified on various bills including SB 971 (strangulation), SB 234 (lease termination), and SB 2390 (Emergency Protective Order confidential address) which were all passed into law. I also testified on SB 3809 (child sexual abuse) in front of the State Affairs Committee alongside other experts and survivors from the U.S. national team and Olympic team gymnasts who were abused by their former team doctor. Additionally, we hosted two successful Lunch & Learns for legislators and their staff to inform them about how policy affects survivors.
- We had a record 60 Teen Ambassadors of Hope this year. This important violence prevention program continues to grow each year and to top if off, this group of young leaders raised $27,000 to support our mission.
- We started working with Girl Scouts of Central Texas to educate young women on healthy relationships.
- Our Medical Legal Partnership initiative gained momentum by way of new partnerships with Mama Sana, Center for Health Empowerment, Advent Health, and Care Connections Clinic - a pilot program with CommUnityCare Health Centers.
- Our team, led by our Chief Operating Officer (formerly titled Deputy Executive Director) Denise Margo Moy, was invited by the Family Violence and Domestic Relations Program of the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges to join a multi-year technical assistance project focused on improving civil protection order systems and processes to address the needs of survivors. Denise was also selected to serve as Council Member of the Poverty Law Section of the State Bar of Texas.
- We joined with Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission to help in their new initiative to eradicate human trafficking at TABC-licensed locations.
- Two new signature events kicked off our year of growth: football squares for The Big Game and our Kentucky Derby Watch Party. We also made great strides growing our Advocates for Hope program, gaining 10 new sustaining giving members in one night at a September house party.
- Our 13th annual Black & White Ball chaired by Jeannette Spinelli, raised over half a million dollars in one beautiful evening where we honored Danielle with our Courage Award, Accenture with our Generosity of Spirit Award, and State Representative John M. Zerwas, M.D. with our Vision Award.
- One of my favorite media interviews of the year took place in October in honor of DV Awareness Month. I was interviewed by Fox 7 Austin as a co-sponsor of the "Football is a Contact Sport, Love Shouldn’t Be” with Travis County Sheriff's Office. The campaign involves freshmen, JV and varsity players wearing purple ribbon decals on their helmets. Special shout to our friends in the media for shining a light on our work and survivors!
- Our community and staff banded together to send out 2,003 MORE Backpacks for Hope and Handbags for Hope to Texas shelters than in the previous year, helping more survivors find their way to safety!
- As a staff, we continue to grow, with over 30 people dedicated to ending abuse. Also, our University of Texas Mike A. Myers Fellow in Public Interest Law has begun her work and you'll hear directly from Beck Walker later in this newsletter.
- As The Project heads into 2020 we embark on our first ever annual budget to exceed $3 MILLION DOLLARS. With that change also comes some restructuring and new leadership titles, including my new title as CEO.
We look forward to another great year of making a difference in the lives of survivors. I know there are countless worthy causes and wonderful organizations to choose from and we are so grateful that you continue to support Texas Advocacy Project. We hope to see you at a future event!
Chief Executive Officer
Becky Walker, Staff Attorney & Recipient of the UT Austin Mike A. Myers Fellowship in Public Interest Law
What initially brought you to Texas Advocacy Project?
I was a student in the Domestic Violence Clinic during law school, and knew I wanted to continue helping survivors of domestic violence after I graduated. I was fortunate to have the support of the Texas Advocacy Project while applying for fellowships during my final year of law school, and was selected as the inaugural recipient of the Mike Myers Fellowship. This fellowship is generously funded by an alumnus who supports UT Law graduates beginning their legal careers in the area of domestic violence/sexual assault. Thanks to this fellowship, I have been working with TAP on expanding the resources available to LGBTQ+ survivors of domestic violence/sexual assault.
What’s your favorite thing so far about working at Texas Advocacy Project?
Most jobs are thankless. However, working at TAP is really rewarding because we have clients who are genuinely grateful for the services we provide. Not a week passes where someone doesn’t pause a conversation to tell me how thankful they are that we are able to provide them with resources.
Tell us something unique about yourself!
I had a show on the radio in college. Our radio station’s tagline was “none of the hits, all of the time.”
What’s something that you have learned about Texas Advocacy Project that you didn’t know before joining the team?
I did not realize how far TAP’s services reach. We really do help people all across the entire state of Texas.
What do you most like to do to unwind?
I love going to see movies in theater. My favorite movie of 2019 was probably The Farewell.
Where is the one restaurant you’re dying to try?
Santa and his elves really delivered! All 11 of our adopted survivor-families will receive Hope for the Holidays through our annual gift campaign. That’s more than double the number of families we were able to help last year, all thanks to our generous supporters who hosted gift drives, present wrapping events, and office fundraisers to collect monetary gifts.
The success of this campaign is due to the selfless giving of many people. First, we would like to thank everyone who donated a gift from a family's wishlist. We are excited to imagine the look of all the children’s faces when they see their gifts. Also, to our volunteers who assisted with the wrapping of over 600 presents and packing over 40 boxes for shipment. We appreciate your time and passion for this campaign! Last, but certainly not least, we would like to send special appreciation to the following sponsors who made significant monetary donations to support this year’s campaign:
Thank you all for helping to spread holiday cheer this season!
There is still time before the year ends to Be the Solution for Texas families AND boost your 2019 tax deduction. The free legal services we provide every day have provided a solution for safety to these families:
- Bianca* suffered physical, sexual and emotional abuse at the hands of her husband, including tracking her every move and assaulting her outside her church. We obtained a life-saving protective order for her.
- Julia* has three disabled children who were all sexually abused by her husband. We got his parental rights terminated so that he will never harm them again.
- Tessa* was in a violent relationship culminating in her abuser shooting her son. We obtained a life-saving protective order for her.
Every $50 raised adds ato the great state of Texas. So far, from all sources we have raised $4,957! Your donation provides the solution: FREE legal services.
*Names changed to protect survivors.
The Year in Review benefiting TAP at Cap City Comedy Club | Dec 29th TICKETS
Teen Ambassadors of Hope Nominations Opens | Feb 1st
Handbags for Hope Launches | Feb 9th
Kentucky Derby Watch Party | May 2nd
Berry Creek Open at Berry Creek Tennis Club | Fri, July 31st - Sun, Aug 2nd
Black & White Ball at the brand new Austin Marriott Downtown | Sat Sept 26th