Round Rock Police Department thanks Hope Alliance!

October 23, 2012

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The Round Rock Police Department and the Round Rock Police Officers Association presented the staff and volunteers of Hope Alliance with a recognition plaque for the work that the organization does for victims of domestic violence.

How great is that?! If we’re going to eliminate domestic violence from our community, we’ve got to work together. We appreciate all the support RRPD has given us, and look forward to creating a safer world side by side!

Also, checkout the incredible set up in front of our office for Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

 

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The purple candles represent the 7 people whose deaths were a result of domestic violence. The white candles represent the numerous clients and survivors who live in our community.

We hope you are well and safe!

-Corey Ann & MichaelElaine
(And all of Hope Alliance!)

Movie Screening: Half the Sky

September 6, 2012

Save the Date and Join Us for this Screening: 

September 27, 7pm

Round Rock Public Library
216 E. Main Street

HALF THE SKY:
TURNING OPPRESSION INTO OPPORTUNITY FOR WOMEN WORLDWIDE

by: Maro Chermayeff
Inspired by his best-selling Pulitzer Prize-winning book, author Nicholas Kristof and celebrity activists travel to nine countries. They witness courageous individuals who are confronting oppression and creating meaningful solutions through health care, education, and economic empowerment for women and girls.

Our Sexual Violence Prevention Specialist, Corey Ann Seldon, will be speaking on the panel after the movie. Other panelists will be from Austin NOW and the International Justice Mission!

Bring a friend and join us!

Train the Trainer Success!

August 31, 2012

What were you doing on Monday, August 27? The Prevention Team of Hope Alliance was hanging out with 11 incredible educators!

MichaelElaine and I had the privilege of leading a Train the Trainer on our Violence Prevention Curriculum. This is our second year leading the training, and it was so wonderful. Not only did we have prevention specialists from across Texas, but we also had local school counselors from Williamson County.

The morning focused on reviewing why our curriculum looks the way it does, what it includes, its goals, and how it’s used. MichaelElaine and I also facilitated a few lessons so that people could get a feel for it! Then then afternoon was spent watching our amazing participants facilitate it on their own. Now, if anyone’s ever been in a training, you know that when the facilitators say, “Ok, your turn!” you kind of freeze. Wait, what? My turn? No no no I’m at a TRAINING. YOU facilitate and I hang out.

Pffft. Not this training, no sirree. We wanted people to start to embody and practice using the tool they were given. And it was absolutely fantastic! Not only did we receive valuable insight into the curriculum, but participants actually go the chance to troubleshoot lessons with their peers. One evaluation even said, “As much as I hate to admit it, practicing facilitating was the most valuable part of the training.”

For those of you who are interested in learning how to use Project Empowerment, keep in mind that we will have another training in August 2013. Or if you just can’t wait that long, send us an email and we can see if its possible to put one together for you and your school/agency!

Happy Labor Day!

-Corey Ann
corey.seldon@hopealliancetx.org

The Second Annual Train The Trainer is Right Around the Corner!

August 6, 2012

On August 27th Hope Alliance is hosting it’s second annual
Train the Trainer!

Last year’s Train the Trainer was such as success that we are bringing it back for more! 

This training is centered around Project Empowerment, which is a violence prevention curricula for 3rd-12th grade students. Participants will gain tools, techniques, and strategies to work with youth and help them learn to navigate their feelings, relationships and lives.

You will leave this training with:

  • New skills and activities to facilitate discussions of healthy behaviors
  • The skills to facilitate the Project Empowerment curriculum
  • A network of professionals who are also invested in preventing violence
  • A solid understanding of prevention
  • Ideas of how to implement this curriculum in your community

Who should register for this event?

  • Teachers and educators
  • Any professional who works with youth
  • Adults looking to add skills to their toolkit on how to facilitate discussions of healthy behaviors with youth

Click here to register! 

For more information, please click here, or contact Corey Ann Seldon at Corey.Seldon@hopealliancetx.org or 512-255-1212

Rethinking Masculinity

July 31, 2012

I recently sat in on my first Mobilizing Men Task Force meeting, sponsored (and lovingly supported) by Tim Love and Ted Rutherford over at TAASA- Texas Association Against Sexual Assault.

The room was filled with highly motivated people representing several agencies including the Hays-Caldwell Women’s Center and the Ft. Bend County Women’s Center.

The MMTF was formed out of the need to engage men in the fight to end sexual violence. These meetings also discuss the stereotypical definition of masculinity out society has constructed and how it plays into sexual violence. Masculinity is often seen as the tough and rugged. Big machines, big muscles, big ambition, big paycheck; but when talking about gender, size just shouldn’t matter.

Currently, the stereotypical definition of masculinity that is pressed onto our youth is that of the conquering hero, ever active in attaining physical dominance over other males, and sexual dominance over any female he desires. In this definition there is little room for the artistic and creative energy to flow. These young boys who are “in touch with their feminine side” risk being teased, bullied, or isolated if they do not strive to fit the definition of a “real” boy.

This is apparent even in something as simple as a bicycle. Ted Rutherford brought this example of inequality to light during the MMTF meeting. He showed pictures of children’s bikes and had us analyze the messages. Boy’s bikes are generally decorated in black with flames or dark earth tones with the theme of construction vehicles or tanks and guns. Girl’s bikes are usually pink or purple, with a white wicker basket, complete with colorful tassels or flowers.

But what if a young boy wanted a bright colored bike? The colors could appeal to him. The basket could seem useful, and the flowers or tassels may be attractive and look fun. What does he risk by riding this pink bike? What do his parents risk? Is his “boy-hood” called into question? Most likely, yes. Not only by the other boys around him, but by adults and female children as well.

What message does this give to young boys?

THIS is who you are. You are rugged. You are competent. You are in control. You are aggressive. It is not okay to step outside of what “we” have decided is masculine. And above all else, it is not okay to be associated with anything feminine.

The feminine becomes distasteful, and all the emotions, games, colors, clothes and body parts that are feminine are repulsive or entertaining. Active steps must be taken to avoid being associated with the feminine.

But we work in sexual violence prevention, not bicycle production. So, to say that all boys who ride Combat Rocket 6000 will become abusers is a stretch. But, to fabricate and reinforce unrealistic standards and expectations for boys and girls, creates a world where even the “good guys” accept systemic violence against women.

Men of all walks become disconnected from their emotions by the male socialization process. This process pushes them from accepting the feminine as equal to them. The feminine must be “less than” in order for them to achieve masculinity. And what easier way to show that you have power over someone than to enact violence (especially sexual violence) on that person?

Without the ability to empathize with people around them, how can men begin to support not only the women they love, but also themselves, in the fight to end sexual violence?

TAASA’s Mobilizing Men Task Force is one of many groups geared at engaging men, and challenging the harsh definition of what a man “should be”. If we want to eliminate sexual assault, we will also have to shift the definition of a man to include empathy, caring, and love.

Corey Ann and MichaelElaine; Hope Alliance Prevention Team

Preventioneers!

July 17, 2012

Last week Corey Ann and I met with two other awesome prevention teams; the Houston Area Women’s Center and the Fort Bend County Women’s Center. A motivating factor to having this meeting of the prevention minds was to gain insight into what other agencies are doing and how we can all improve together. It was great to hear stories, share ideas, and gain perspective on what other people in the state are doing to prevent sexual violence! The entire meeting was charged with positive energy and a desire to help improve all of our prevention techniques.

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Ft. Bend County Women’s Center

Let’s be honest – prevention can be complicated. To see so many passionate preventioneers and learn new techniques helped me realize that communication around this work is so important. A variety of topics are included when talking about preventing violence because all forms of oppression can lead to violence. To throw another layer of complication on top of this, we work with youth. While students can be very charged and passionate, like most other people they will mentally “check-out” if we are irrelevant or just plain boring. Hearing how other agencies stay accountable to youth while keeping youth engaged is motivating. Improvement is always possible.

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The key to good prevention work is access to knowledge, tools, and resources. In a world where youth are constantly changing and navigating new obstacles, prevention techniques need to be right there with them. With the ability to shift and grow with youth, we can help them tackle new problems and build with them to stop sexual violence.

Thank you Houston Area Women’s Center and Ft. Bend County Women’s Center for all of your fantastic work!

~MichaelElaine M. Stark; Structured Education Coordinator

Check out this Amazing Volunteer!

June 28, 2012

Every Tuesday morning like clockwork, Volunteer Donations Manager, Mimi Kotz arrives at the Hope Alliance Administrative Office on Gattis School Road and picks up the many items that have been generously donated by caring individuals and community organizations. Mimi gathers, sorts, and delivers the items, which can range from books, food, toiletries and clothing to pieces of furniture. She is also an expert inventory person who always knows what items are most needed by our clients.

Last summer, Mimi joined Hope Alliance when she volunteered as a shelter and hotline advocate. Before long, she realized coordinating donated items was the most fulfilling way to give her time to our organization and clients.

“Mimi is the most cheerful person I have ever met,” says Hope Alliance Receptionist, Delia Arellano who is usually the first person to greet Mimi when she arrives in the mornings. “Mimi’s a great asset to our agency, and I don’t know what we would do without her,” says Delia.

According to Mimi, one of the reasons she decided to become a Hope Alliance volunteer was because she recognized the struggles survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault face and wanted to do her part for “the cause.” Mimi explained that she is a retired teacher who had some extra time on her hands and wanted to give back to her community.

One of the major projects Mimi coordinated for the shelter was spending hours completely reorganizing the women and children’s storage units. According to Shelter Director, Kate Tolliver, “Mimi takes complete responsibility for shelter donations. She completely organized the storage units, and they’re so organized it’s now like walking into a store.” Mimi even added plastic department store size rings to the clothing racks in order to simplify the selection and fitting process.

Mimi says she is having a “blast” as the Volunteer Donations Manager. All of us at Hope Alliance are truly grateful to have Mimi as a member of our team.

If you are interested in becoming a volunteer with Hope Alliance, please contact Jay Smith at jay.smith@hopealliancetx.org

This article is part of the Hope Alliance Newsletter. If you’d like to receive this electronic newsletter, please email Melinda Smith at melinda.biggs@hopealliancetx.org

Pride Month!

June 20, 2012
June is the national LGBTQA Pride Month! (That assembly of letters stands for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Allies!)

In honor of Pride Month, I would like to talk about some issues still faced by the LGBTQA community. The right to feel safe and secure in your own environment and community is a corner stone of the LGBTQA movement. Unfortunately, intimate partner violence is just as prevalent in LGBTQA relationships as it is in heterosexual relationships.

While the victims in these relationships may face a similar set of challenges as heterosexual victims,  there may be additional methods of abuse. For example, the threat of being “outed” by the abusive partner can be used to maintain control. Being outed can jeopardize jobs, family relationships, community relationships, and take the choice of coming out away from the partner with less power. Also, the fear of bringing more negativity or criticism to the queer community can be used to silence victims. Often many survivors are unaware of LGBTQA resources and supportive organizations that can help them or those resources are underfunded and small.

The cycle of violence can look very similar to that of a heterosexual situation. Violence is about seeking power, and finding it by taking it from someone else. All of us look for power in our daily lives: what we buy, where we go, what we wear, even what job we have. Because the LGBTQA community is still disenfranchised they may encounter violence in their home life as well as in the community. For survivors who are in an abusive LGBTQA relationship, seeking help and support is just as important, and extremely difficult, as it is for anyone facing violence.

I am proud of how far we have come to ensure civil rights for all citizens. This is something to be acknowledged. But, let us also take a moment to look at how much further we have to go: The right to equality, safety, and happiness for all.

For more information about LGBTQA issues and information on domestic violence please visit the Texas Council on Family Violence website!

Everyone loves SALSA!

June 4, 2012

No, I’m not talking about chips and salsa. This SALSA is even more important for our world than that delicious derivative of tomatoes. I’m talking about the amazing Sexual Assault Legal Services and Assistance program here in Texas!

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I met with a few attorneys from SALSA on Friday to learn about their program. We spent a lot of time brainstorming how we could support them and vise versa. I left so energized and excited that I had to share their info with you.

First off, SALSA is a project of the Texas Legal Services Center and the Texas Association Against Sexual Assault. They work to provide free, confidential legal assistance to all survivors of sexual violence throughout Texas.

They have an incredibly easy intake process that can be completed online or over the phone. From there, the applicant will receive followup from a staff member to discuss the details of the situation. I was intrigued to hear that many people don’t realize how many legal services and rights they are entitled to as a victim of sexual violence. SALSA addresses legal issues in connection with sexual violence and safety, housing, finances, employment, education, immigration, privacy, or criminal cases. They are really comprehensive and advocates to the core.

It is so exciting to learn about this progressive, client-centered, coordinated agency that works to create a better world. As difficult and frustrating as it is to deal with sexual violence, it is a relief to know people can access these competent, high quality services for free.

Thanks, SALSA, for all you do and will do!

-Corey Ann Seldon
Sexual Violence Prevention Specialist

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Make your search…a Good Search!

May 31, 2012

How many people does a large pizza feed? What was the name of that movie? How many seconds are in a year? These questions and more are continuously typed into a search engine by us curious people as we seek answers to our random, and not so random, questions.

Search engines like “Google” and “Bing” are favorites among many. But, have you heard of Good Search? This search engine, which is run by Yahoo, actually pays nonprofit organizations for every time you use their engine! Donating to Hope Alliance has never been easier. Good Search will donate at least 1 cent for every search you make, more if you purchase something from your search. This is amazing, and it really adds up. With no advertising and lots of searching, our supporters are raising money for Hope Alliance right now! Think how much we could raise if we all stopped using the other search engines and only used Good Search! We would be rolling in the dough!

Cool, so how do you do this? Simple! Go to Goodsearch.com, select Hope Alliance Williamson County Crisis Center, add Good Search to your toolbar (not mandatory) and start searching. Something so easy can help us raise the money needed to keep our services going.

Thank you so much for taking the time to use Good Search and for convincing all of your friends, family, acquaintances and enemies to use it for Hope Alliance, too.

-Melinda Biggs
Development Director


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