History of Family Crisis Center
The Family Crisis Center began in 1981 from a coalition of rural Texas women with a shared vision of offering hope, support, and assistance to women victimized by domestic violence. The Center has evolved into a community leader in the four rural central Texas counties of Bastrop, Colorado, Fayette, and Lee.
1981- A small group of women and children met at the home of Debbie Bresette to build a community network for women. After much discussion they came to the realization that there were several families in the area with violent relationships. The focus of the meeting changed to family violence assistance and the group decided to advertise in the local paper to attract a diverse group of community volunteers. At the second meeting a woman who had been severely battered came to ask for help and safety. This event was the catalyst that changed the meeting from talk to action. After the first four meetings, a consistent core of people remained interested in the situation. Safe homes were developed throughout Bastrop County and used to shelter women and their children.
1982- The first Board of Directors was formed, bylaws developed, and 501(c)3 status was filed. Board members provided crisis intervention and shelter. The Center received its first referral from the Department of Human Services (DHS). Child Protective Services in Fayette County requested safety for a mother and her child who was a victim of sexual abuse. Janine Peters secured a donated trailer, cleared land and found a variety of resources for the family. We learned that families need comprehensive services specific to individual needs.
1983- The Center became incorporated as a 501(c)3 non-profit organization. A mother and her four children were referred by Child Protective Services. The caseworker was afraid they would all be murdered. Board members and volunteers went door to door and raised $3,000 and sent the mother and the children to her home in another country. We learned to ask for funding and assistance and partner with the community to help keep families safe.
1984- An official hotline number with volunteers and an answering machine was set up. We found our first office on Main Street in Bastrop. Ruben Soriano drew our first poster advertising our hotline number. We placed them in the women’s restroom of local bars. The first call from the posters was from a 7-year-old girl who had seen the bear drawn on the poster and knew that we could help her. She out-cried about sexual abuse and was provided with immediate criminal justice assistance. We learned how to partner with the criminal justice system and began to work with child victims.
1985- After a public education presentation at the Wyldwood Baptist Church, our first safe house, located in Smithville, was donated. We hired the first paid house manager with money raised from a Johnny Paycheck concert sponsored by residents of Tahitian Village. We received our first grant for sexual assault services and our second grant for family violence services. We provided our first school-based, sexual assault prevention programs to middle and high school students. The Center rented office space in Bastrop on Pecan Street. At this time, there were three staff members.
1986- Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) funding was received! Community fundraising began. The Boogie Benefit, our first all day dance concert, was held. The Child Assault Prevention Program (CAPP), from Columbus Ohio, came to Bastrop and trained volunteers and was offered to school districts. Smithville was the first school to receive CAPP presentations.
1987- The Center moved to a trailer in downtown Bastrop for our first office with a counseling area. Texas Council on Family Violence (TCFV) came and provided their first technical assistance training to agency board members on board duties.
1988- A larger office space opened on Spring Street in Bastrop, which had 4 rooms. Lamar and Joyce Wiginton donated the first computer and the safe house in Bastrop. We opened our first satellite office in Smithville in the City Hall. We began to separate our board and staff duties. We completed our first strategic plan.
1989- Funding was difficult. The Center’s office was moved briefly to the renovated garage in the safe house. The first Emergency Shelter grant from the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs (TDHCA) gave us the money to return to the Spring Street office and hire another advocate. We began Parent Education classes. We closed our books with a deficit that year, and learned how vital fundraising was. We changed our name to the Family Crisis Center.
1990- Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) money became available to the Center in the amount of $23,000. Another grant allowed the Center to have four Volunteers in Service to America (VISTA) who helped develop our fundraising and volunteer programs. The Lutheran Brotherhood of Fayette County built a playground for the safe house, and the Batterers Intervention and Prevention Program (BIPP) began. Presentations were made to 6,000 children through the CAPP program. Our first formal strategic planning process was developed.
1991- The Self-Help Awareness and Positive Esteem (SHAPE) program, a school-based counseling program, began in Lee County schools. The first newsletter, golf tournament, rodeo and volunteer recognition events were held. Policies and procedures were written.
1992- Office space was donated in the Agricultural Building in La Grange for outreach services in Fayette County, and it was furnished by local civic clubs. Andy Blaschke was elected the Chair of Garage Sales, which was the inspiration for the development of an agency thrift store.
1993- The first Annual Dance in La Grange was held. For the first time, the Dance and Golf Tournament were organized exclusively by volunteers. The Board approved establishment of a thrift store. A steering committee was formed to run our first capital campaign. Bobby Jenkins and his aunts, Marie McLeod and Agnes K. Hasler, donated 1 acre of land for $1.00 a year for 50 years.
1994- The Bits & Pieces Thrift Store opened. The first satellite office in Lee County opened. The need for permanent facilities was established, and a capital campaign of $500,000 was approved to include a direct services office combined with a thrift store and separate shelter.
1995- Plans for a permanent facility were finalized, construction loans acquired, and the capital campaign began. Staff numbers were increased at the emergency shelter to provide 24-hour care. Motorola donated all the office furniture. LCRA donated a large Morgan building.
1996- The Center moved into to a new office in Bastrop, on 431 Old Austin Highway, in July. We also opened a new satellite office in La Grange to expand services in Fayette County. Many other programs and groups were expanded. We partnered with First Call for Help of United Way and became an information and referral source for the counties we serve.
1997- The Center opened the first office in Colorado County in Columbus. We began a capital campaign to support the safe housing project, which included renovation of the emergency shelter and construction of a transitional housing apartment complex. We acquired $1,000,000 in funding in the first phase of the campaign.
1998- We reorganized the management of the Center and developed a team approach that reflected a continuum of care for clients.
1999- The Center began the next phase of the safe housing project and construction plans were developed. We received our first Grants to Encourage Arrest Policies (GTEAP) from the Office on Violence Against Women (OVW) to support the creation of an area Coordinated Community Response Team (CCRT).
2000- The Center began construction on the transitional housing apartment complex. The thrift store moved to the former Owl Western Wear Building. The new thrift store facility increased retail space from 1000 ft2 to 7500 ft2 and made more room for direct services in the main office. The Family Violence Information System (FVIS) database was created in order to track family violence incident reports in the four-county area.
2001- The safe housing project was completed and the new transitional housing apartment complex included 21 apartments. The emergency shelter was doubled in size, from 4 bedrooms to 8.
2002- Prevention and education programs covered 19 school districts on 52 campuses. The Center increased outreach services by extending hours in satellite offices. The first annual Festival of Trees fundraising event was held. The Center and community partners initiated the FVIS database.
2003- Debbie Bresette moved on to a new position with the United Way for Greater Austin. The Board of Directors appointed Sherry Murphy as the new Executive Director. The First Annual Pedal Thru The Pines cycling event was held. We received the first Office of Community Services federal grant. The Protective Parenting program was launched. The first annual Men’s March to End Violence Against Women and Children was held. The march was developed by men in the BIPP and brought community men together in order to build inspiration around ending violence against women and children.
2004- The Center purchased land for building a new thrift store facility and began raising the funds for a down payment on its construction. Eight area nurses underwent training to begin the process of becoming Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) certified.
2005- The local Sexual Assault Integrated Nursing Team (SAINT) program became a reality in May 2005, with 5 nurses becoming certified Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners. The Center broke ground on construction of the thrift store facility.
2006- Construction of the new Bits & Pieces Retail Thrift Store was completed; the store move took place in mid-May and the Grand Opening Celebration in August. The Festival of Trees fundraising event moved to the Hyatt Regency Lost Pines. The Center received the first grant from the St. David’s Foundation to support counseling services.
2007- We purchased and installed a sign for the main office building in Bastrop, providing greater visibility for the agency and programs. The counseling support group for survivors of domestic violence, In Our Best Interest, was implemented. The Center began working with the Children’s Advocacy Center of Bastrop and criminal justice system partners in order to develop a Community Plan for Criminal Justice Services in compliance with Texas Administrative Code.
2008- The Center celebrated 25 years as a non-profit corporation and a legacy of service to the community.
2009- The Center entered the planning stages for a building renovation and expansion capital campaign project in order to enhance the main office in Bastrop.
2010- The Center became one of three sites nationally to partner with OVW and Break the Cycle in order to implement the Rural School Policy Initiative, a campus teen dating policy campaign. The transitional housing complex reached maximum capacity, with all units rented, for the first time since it opened. The Center launched the Sexual Assault Focused Education (SAFE) Teens program, which is a sexual violence primary prevention program that includes a 9-week curriculum for youth ages 14-18. The Center also held a community conference for criminal justice system partners and other organizations in order to address system response to domestic violence: Engaging Communities to End Domestic and Sexual Violence. The conference was supported by the 2009-11 GTEAP grant and featured Mark Wynn as the guest speaker, who received very positive feedback and response from participants.
2011- As part of the 2009-11 GTEAP grant, the Center implemented the Bastrop Court Watch Program, which concluded in 2011 and resulted in 344 hours of service provided by volunteer court monitors who observed 132 adult misdemeanor & felony cases and 13 adult protective order hearings. The Center held a second community conference supported through the grant in order to address issues related to stalking, What is Stalking?, which featured Rebecca Dreke, Senior Program Associate Stalking Resource Center National Center for Victims of Crime, as the guest speaker.
2012- The Center celebrated special event anniversaries with the 10th annual Festival of Trees & So Much More, the 10th annual Pedal Thru The Pines, and the 20th annual Dinner & Dance. The agency provided 7,696 nights of emergency shelter for women and children fleeing violence, the greatest annual number of shelter nights recorded. The agency also received an emergency operating grant from The Meadows Foundation in order to sustain victim services. Community and volunteer support contributed greatly to the Center’s achievements this year.
2013- The Center implemented a new version of the incident report database and adopted the new name of the Domestic Violence Information System (DVIS) database. The Center was awarded the first Transitional Housing Assistance Grants for Victims of Sexual Assault, Domestic Violence, Dating Violence, and Stalking Program grant by OVW.
2014- The Center collaborated with Safe Havens Interfaith Partnership Against Domestic Violence from Massachusetts to present a community conference for rural, faith-based leaders: Partnering with Faith Leaders to Address Domestic and Sexual Violence on October 7, 2013 in La Grange, TX. The conference was supported by the 2011-14 Rural Sexual Assault, Domestic Violence, Dating Violence and Stalking Assistance Program grant from OVW.