Ujima Magazine interviewed Heather Bellino the Director of Development and Communications of Texas Advocacy Project in regards to Handbags for Hope.
Texas Advocacy Project’s Handbags for Hope campaign is centered on the premise that providing access to legal resources will help victims of domestic violence become safe in the long term. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, victims who access the criminal justice system are 80% less likely to be re-victimized in their lifetimes. Through this campaign, Texas Advocacy Project will be able to distribute purses to shelters throughout the state of Texas. Children staying in shelters across will then pick out a donated purse to gift to their moms on Mother’s Day. Tucked away inside each purse will be a chance for a new life – each one will be fitted with a tag that has Texas Advocacy Project’s life-saving, toll-free legal domestic violence hotline number and pamphlets detailing steps to get and stay safe. “Last year alone, the Project closed over 5,000 cases that impacted the lives of more than 11,000 women and their children. We know access to legal services is critical in helping victims begin the journey to becoming a survivor,” said Andrea Sloan, Executive Director of Texas Advocacy Project. “When victims call the Project’s domestic violence legal hotline it is often the first time they have spoken to an attorney, and to learn that they have rights, that they can get protection and safety, is a life-altering moment. By stitching the Project’s domestic violence hotline inside the handbags, victims will be armed with one of the strongest tools to break the cycle of domestic violence – access to legal services.”
Texas Advocacy Project is a statewide non-profit organization providing free legal help to victims of domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking. The Project provides invaluable legal services– helping thousands of Texans and their children across the state. Our vision is for a Texas where no child has to see one parent harm the other. For more information please visit our site at TexasAdvocacyProject.org.
UM: What is the name of your organization?
Heather Bellino: Texas Advocacy Project, Inc
UM: How did you come up with the name Handbags for Hope?
Heather Bellino: “Handbags for Hope” was created by our Executive Director, Andrea Sloan and a member of our Board of Directors, Candace Lambert.
UM: Who founded this project?
Heather Bellino: Handbags for Hope is a campaign of Texas Advocacy Project. We have multiple supporters who are participating in the drive by acting as drop off locations and collection sites.
UM: How long has this project been going on?
Heather Bellino: This is the sixth year of Texas Advocacy Project’s Handbags for Hope campaign.
UM: Where can donations be dropped off?
Heather Bellino: Our main public drop off location is at the Travis County Sheriff’s Office, at 5555 Airport Blvd. Austin Texas. In addition to providing a drop off location, TCSO helps us by facilitating the cleaning of the purses and by applying the labels. Once that is completed, a team of Texas Advocacy Project volunteers fill the purses with pamphlets outlining safety plans and Project services then prepares the purses for distribution. We are deeply grateful for the support of Sheriff Hamilton, Chief Sylvester and the commitment of the entire staff at the Travis County Sheriff’s Office.
UM: What is the time frame to accept the donations?
Heather Bellino: The Handbags for Hope drive began on February 20th and runs through March 18th.
For more information on Texas Advocacy Project please go to: www.TexasAdvocacyProject.org or you may call 512.225.9596