HeartStrings for Hope: benefitting CASA and Safer Path



The Brian Anderson Band provided great dancing music for the night. LISA LUNA | PLEASANTON EXPRESS

The Brian Anderson Band provided great dancing music for the night. LISA LUNA | PLEASANTON EXPRESS

HeartStrings for Hope, a joint fundraiser benefiting CASA of South Texas and Safer Path Family Violence Shelter, raised $36,000, Saturday, Oct. 5. This was the fourth HeartStrings for Hope event which was started on a whim by local philanthropist Jessica Tom.

“HeartStrings for Hope was started on a whim four years ago when I was trying to find a way to help two organizations at once,” said Jessica Tom. “I was already thinking of hosting a party and hiring my favorite Western swing band, so it made sense to turn it into a fundraiser. The first year we hoped to raise around $10,000 and we raised $30,000. The name was created to bring people with a love for fiddlin’ strings together so we could pull at their heartstrings and help provide hope for the clients of these two organizations. Hope for a violence free future and hope to be reunited with family to find a child’s forever home.”

This year’s event was held at the beautiful Strawberry Pines in Poteet. A big thank you from organizers to local favorite Brian Anderson and his talented band who helped guests dance the night away. The night also included live and silent auctions, raffles and dinner provided by Heavenly Gourmet catering.

CASA of South Texas is part of a national volunteer movement that began in 1977 when Judge David Soukup in Seattle decided he needed to know more about the children whose lives were in his hands. His solution was to ask community volunteers to act as a “voice in court” for abused and neglected children. These Court Appointed Special Advocate® (CASAs) provided him with the detailed information he needed to safeguard the children’s best interests and ensure that they were placed in safe, permanent homes as quickly as possible. The program was so successful that it was copied around the nation.

CASA of South Texas (Court Appointed Special Advocate) is the voice for abused and neglected children who have been removed from their homes in Atascosa, Frio, La Salle, Karnes and Wilson Counties. Trained community CASA volunteers work to ensure each child has a safe, loving and permanent home.

“In Texas alone, 56 children a day are removed from their homes and placed in state care due to abuse and neglect,” said Joni Garcia, CASA of South Texas Executive Director. “We’re currently serving 191 children on 86 cases with about 50 volunteers, but our waiting list is 50 kids. One CASA volunteer has to serve one child for at least one year to get one number, so we work very hard for our stats. More than 125 volunteers helped us this year and provided 763 hours of service.”

Garcia said CASA’s mission is to do whatever they can to help children find forever homes and not be re-traumatized in the system. “No other service organization does what CASA does for foster children,” said Garcia. “Here in our rural area, if a child doesn’t have a CASA, he may have no one to speak up for him. CASA is a powerful and proven voice for these kids. Every child deserves a chance.

“Our children have big hearts that have been hurt big,” said Garcia. “Our volunteers’ hearts are generous and they help heal that hurt. Everyone at HeartStrings had full hearts to support our mission. We are grateful for a community that cares about our CASA kids.”

Safer Path Family Violence Shelter, formerly known as Atascosa Family Crisis Center, was established as a nonprofit 501 (c)3 in April of 1992 to provide support to the victims of dating violence, family violence, sexual assault and stalking. Safer Path provides education, prevention and change to move families from victims to survivors; thereby creating hope for the future. Safer Path is client centered. The organization believes their clients. They do not judge, blame or question their choices. Safer Path is compassionate, patient, flexible, present and empathetic. They understand the importance of confidentiality. Clients are not overlooked, made to feel incapable or talked down to. They know they are someone’s support system and they are advocates and they do not drop the ball. Safer Path is vigilant with the safety of their staff and clients because lives depend on it. Safer Path’s duty is to provide a safe place to prepare a framework for a secure future.

“HeartStrings is a wonderful event thanks to the leadership and direction of Jessica Tom,” said Rhonda Williamson, Safer Path Executive Director. “This event makes the important connection between domestic violence and child abuse, and between the work done by CASA and Safer Path. At Safer Path we want to be a place where families get a second chance to learn to live violence-free lives. Our two new programs – transitional housing and a Batterers Intervention and Prevention Program (BIPP) are about creating that second chance to learn that violence is always a choice and we can all make better choices. Our growth and new programs are made possible because of the financial support from our community. I want to thank all our donors, sponsors, auction buyers and attendees. Your gifts and support have built a future for Safer Path.”

According to Williamson, Safer Path had served 1,072 clients during fiscal year (9/1/18-8/31/19). Last year, the organization served 866. For a 23% increase. Safer Path had reached 5,770 individuals via education and prevention programs in fiscal year 2019.

The organizers of HeartStrings for Hope would like to thank all their generous sponsors which include:

Table Sponsors:

Al & Deana Steinle; Alexander Ford; Christina Evins; District Attorney Audrey Louis; Gaydos Construction, LLC; Joel & Debbie McDaniel; Judge Bob Hurley; Labor Finders; Lucinda Vickers; Pleasanton Express; Ridout Barrett, CPAs; Strawberry Pines; Tim & Shirley Jambers; Tom & Sue Jambers; Tom Brothers Ranch

In-Kind Sponsors:

C&T Rentals, Party Rentals Etc., Supreme Linens

Many thanks for the wonderful auction items donated by:

Rori Roberts, Susan Phillips, Al & Deana Steinle, Glazer Beverages, Chicken Scratch Photography/Magpie Dolls/Brandi Rains, Rowdy Rathmell, Joel & Debbie McDaniel, Bob & June Hurley, Lois Tymrak, Jena Furman, Francie Gasch, Cindy Vickers, Audrey Gossett Louis, District Attorney, Jessica Tom, Suzanne Finto, Lucky 1300 Home & Royal Frame Works, Brianna Quintanilla Lorenz, The Good Health Store, Eric & Dina Kaiser, Strawberry Oaks, The Heights of Atascosa, Mindy Jackson/Jagged Edge, Mary Cardenas, Francie & Charles Gasch, Moonlit Madre, Nest Feathers, Mike & Chrissy Harrison, Lolly Porter, Sherry Gaydos, Dot Vrana, Jessica Putz, Cindy Vickers, Rey del Taco, Hairapy Salon by Jenny, Jack Café Floresville, Sisters Boutique and Gifts, Paint Ball Knights and Neva Schmidt.

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