August Spotlight: Lone Star Victims Advocacy Project
We launched the Let's Make Good campaign in July 2020 with the hope of shedding light and love on the people in our communities who are making good not just when the going gets tough, but every single day. We expected a handful of great stories, but what we got were dozens of heartfelt nominations that totally restored our faith in humanity.
We shared our favorites with the barista team, and together we chose Glenaan O'Neil with the Lone Star Victims Advocacy Project as our August winner. Read more about her below and nominate your own hero here for a chance to win $200 for their organization and a bag of beans for the both of y'all.
In 2016, Glenaan O'Neil noticed a critical shift in the Austin community and other areas across the state of Texas. Resources for underprivileged communities were disappearing, but the need was greater than ever.
"It became clear that someone needed to step in," said Glenaan.
And so she did. The Lone Star Victims Advocacy Project (LSVAP) opened its doors in September of 2017 with the mission to provide advocacy, education, and free legal services for immigrant victims of abuse.
After working many years with another Texas nonprofit, Glenaan wanted to provide more than just in-person legal aid. In addition to its legal services (all of which are conducted remotely), LSVAP strives to advocate and provide education for survivors, immigrants, and rural communities across the state.
"We're see it more as an interconnected project rather than a mass problem," she said.
The day-to-day operations at LSVAP haven't changed much since the pandemic began in March - the Austin-based nonprofit was built with the idea that everything would be done via phone, email, and video conferencing.
Many of the people that seek help are vulnerable populations living in rural areas, which can often mean 50+ minutes of travel time to get to a service provider. Some folks may not have cars, childcare, or even licenses to drive, she said.
"This has been our model from the very beginning," Glenaan said. "To consider every potential barrier and essentially meet people where they are."
The Lone Star Victims Advocacy Project team via Facebook
Despite the stream of seemingly never-ending challenges (read: 2020), Glenaan and her team choose to see the adversity as an opportunity to reimagine how social programs could look in the future.
"This is hard, this is awful, nobody would wish this," Glenaan said. "But one thing that can come of it is that we’re building empathetic systems that allow us to help people better."
A cancer survivor and mom, Glenaan is passionate about empowering women. She's nationally recognized as an expert in advocating for immigrant survivors, and has presented at national conferences on blending social and legal services for immigrant survivors of crime. Glenaan is a Department of Justice Accredited Representative. Glenaan’s writing on working with survivors of domestic violence, advocating in rural spaces, and the unique barriers faced by immigrant survivors of domestic violence have been published across the country.
Thank you for all you do, Glenaan! #LetsMakeGood
If you or someone you know is interested in supporting the Lone Star Victims Advocacy Project, you can donate here or volunteer your time. Read more about their services and projects on their website at www.lsvap.org.