Posted on August 25th, 2014

Many of you remember the Summit we did back in 2013.  We have decided to forego a 2014 Summit for two reasons:

We needed to separate Free Austin from the Summit - our hope is to make the Summit a national/international event, while Free Austin, is local.

  • We want to do it right, and thought if we were going to put our name on it, we deserved the run way needed to execute what we needed to make this happen with excellence.
  • We need a team around the following.  I have the teams listed in order of urgency.  We need a Design team ASAP, like yesterday.  So, look through the below list and do the following:

Click HERE and fill out this form, after you have read through the below listAs you read through the list, if a person you know comes to mind who may be interested in  volunteering, please send me their info

Design: to see the style we have leaned to in the past, click HERE and HERE and check out this video, HERE.

  • WebpageDesign
  • Branding/Logo
  • Slogan/Messaging
  • Hand outs 
  • T-shirts
  • Marketing - is there a marketing firm that would be willing to take us on, probono or at a reduced cost
Speaker Management:
  • Potential main session speakers that focus on the justice, cross-sector collaboration, slavery.  We need a speaker from the Faith sector, I’d prefer someone from the Jewish or Muslim faith, but I have a couple good possibilities from the Christian faith as well; we need someone from the business realm; Non-profit sector; Education sector; Arts and Entertainment sector…here’s what we need:
  • Names/Cost/Biographies Track down the best pricing for HotelsArrange Drivers for the SpeakersTotal budget would be a break down on honorarium, hotel, flight, food est., etc

Day of Team and Logistics

  • Best place to get materials printedWe need to chase down donations in the form of drinks (non-alchoholic, waters, soda’s, juices, etc…) - any company who donates gets their name and logo as a sponsor for the conference
  • Set up & Tear Down
  • We will be having sort of a “fair Trade market”, where businesses can showcase their products in a booth - we need to find about 8-10 of these businesses
  • Green Room set-up and stocking
  • Volunteer Management:

Remember, now that you have read through the list, click HERE to sign up for a volunteer team.

Here is our time Goal

  • September 22nd - have all Design ready to be launched - we do NOT need a full page ready to go, just a front page
  • October 15th - Webdesign with content ready to go
  • November 15th - we need speakers secured
  • December 15th - have all the workshops laid out
  • January 15th - Launch registration

by Restore Communities on September 29th, 2013

Restore Weekend

What is Restore Weekend? Every time there is a 5th weekend in a month, we serve the city in a two day event we call, which is called Restore Weekend.  On the last weekend of a month that includes a fifth Sunday, Restore Communities partners with several faith communities and local non-profits for a weekend of serving the Greater-Austin area.   If you would like to join us on our next Restore Weekend, June 28-29th, 2014.  If you would like to get a glimpse as to what actually happens, watch the video below:

by Roger Themme on March 4th, 2012

Personally we are very excited about this blog. Care Communities was one of the first Restore Communities and Austin New Church partners. We absolutely love their work. We love their hearts. We love their commitment to those who are often time forgotten and marginalized, and we love that we get to partner with them in this great city! This month's blog is from their Outreach Director, Roger Temme. If you are a Restore Group leader and you haven't had a chance to take Roger out and buy him a cup of coffee just to listen to his heart and his story, then this is a must for you in 2012. Here's the blog:
Before I tell you about the mission of The Care Communities (TCC), I would like to ask you a question and before you read on through this blog, think about your answer. Take your time to reflect on this question: "Do you have a Care Team?" Now take a few seconds to think about this.........Now you can read on. I don’t know who is reading this right now but I am going to make an assumption about the question. I am going to assume that you have a Care Team. You probably don’t call it that but you have family, friends, some members of Austin New Church/Restore Communities, neighbor’s, coworkers, etc. You have some people who are there for you in good times and bad times. You can count of them to be there for you. Now the reality is that there are many in our greater Austin community who do not have people there for them. And many are living with HIV/AIDS or cancer. The mission and vision of The Care Communities is that no one should face a serious illness alone. Our staff and volunteers demonstrate unconditional care through social services support, daily tasks and genuine companionship for people with cancer or HIV/AIDS. The Care Team consists of three to six volunteers (or an entire restore group), who after going through training, are matched with a Care Partner (client) and provide practical and emotional support. Here are a couple stories:
Doug states his care team has helped him stay alive and stay in his home.  He has no idea how he would have made it without their constant caring.    The care team members state that they are getting more out of the relationship with Doug than they could possible give to him. Helping Doug is especially rewarding since he was the first nurse at the AIDS hospice in Austin during his healthier years.  The Care Team has given Doug new friends and replaced lost hope in their time together.

Regina was diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer in 2002.  The cancer had since metastasized throughout her body.  She holds a part time job and took computer classes—all while loving and raising five children under the age of 10! Despite having painful days as a result of her cancer and seemingly never enough money for the family, Regina had a great outlook and loved to sing. Her outlook and song were inspired, in part, by a Care Communities care team assembled from St. James Episcopal in Austin. The work of the Care Communities’ care team ensured that the children were tutored and pampered even when Regina had rough days. The care team's support made the world a better place for Regina and her children.  Regina referred to her care team as “her angels."
These are just a couple of the people we care for. Our need for more volunteers and more Care Teams is urgent. We have about 30 people on our wait list. We would love to match some of those waiting with a Care Team, with a Restore Group. If you or your Restore Group or someone you know has four hours a month to give and would like to form a Care Team or get more details about how it works, contact me by clicking HERE or call me at 512-459-5883. Please also check out our website

Peace & good, Roger Temme, Outreach Director, The Care Communities
Thank you Roger for this blog, but we want to add one thing. Many people don't know about our first ever Care Team through the Care Communities, so if you scroll down, here's a short video:

Posted on February 1st, 2012

Welcome to our February guest blog. This month we wanted to introduce you to our friends at the Saint Louise House (SLH). The SLH provides affordable housing and essential services to mothers and children impacted by homelessness in Central Texas. Many of you provided Bookshelf gifts for some of their residents this past Christmas, but our hopes is that this is just the beginning of a new partnership. So, without taking too much time, here's the January Guest Blog, by Karen Ranus:
Mommy, they’re just like us.” Our eyes met in the reflection of the rearview mirror as I drove away from the 12-unit apartment complex off North Lamar called Saint Louise House (SLH). Eleven of the 12 apartments housed women and their children who’d experienced homelessness, living in shelters, cars, any place where they might keep their children safe. One apartment served as an office where we had played with the children for the previous hour and a half. She looked at me with her brown eyes sparkling. “Can we come back?” she asked in her small, high pitched voice. “You bet,” I smiled. That was 8 years ago, and many things have changed… My sweet little girl has blossomed into a beautiful teenager, an athlete, a lover of music and books, independent on most days, clingy on others. The 12-unit apartment complex has grown into two larger apartment complexes with the capacity to house 46 families. I “come back” almost every day now to Saint Louise House. After eight years of volunteering, I recently stepped into the role of coordinating SLH volunteers who believe, like me, in the limitless potential of families when they have a place to call “home."
But, one important thing has stayed the same, “…they’re just like us.” The mothers I meet at Saint Louise House are just like me. They prod their children to use good manners, worry that the runny nose and cough will mean another night without sleep, wonder how they’ll budget for the holidays when money is so tight. They talk to other moms when they’re at wit’s end. They fall into bed after all the kids are asleep, exhausted but thankful. They have hopes and dreams for their families, just like me. The simple yet profound observation of a 5-year old is the message I share when I talk about Saint Louise House in the community. I encounter good people with good intentions who have many preconceived notions of what homelessness looks like, and the truth is always this—“They’re just like us.”

Saint Louise House currently provides deeply affordable housing and supportive services (case management, life skills training, employment services, counseling) to 31 families who have been previously homeless. On any given night, there about 5,000 homeless individuals in the Austin area. Forty-percent of them are families and of those families, 90% are led women. While the Median Family Income (MFI) in Austin is $66,420, the average annual income for families at entry into Saint Louise House is $10,320 or $860 a month. Most of the mothers have never lived in one place for one year at any point in their adult life. The large majority have experienced violence of some kind and many of them are suffering from depression. These families are the most vulnerable in our midst, and we look to the community to partner with us in any number of ways to help these families break cycles of poverty, violence and reliance on social services. For more information about volunteer opportunities, you can visit at

The Saint Louise House has plenty of ways to volunteer, if you or your Restore Group are interested in volunteering at the SLH, click HERE. this would be a great way to kick off the new year!

by John Nehme on November 30th, 2011

We figured figured with January now officially being called, "Human Trafficking Awareness Month" and next month has Freedom Sunday it would be appropriate to introduce our readers to our parnters in the fight against human trafficking, ALLIES Against Slavery. We are proud to consider Allies a partner of Restore Communities and look forward to deeper work in the freedom of humanity:
The names of victims of trafficking in this article were changed to protect their identities.

Sindy was pregnant, expecting a baby boy in a matter of days. Her pregnancy, however, was more complicated than most. As a recently identified victim of human trafficking in Austin, Sindy was just beginning to receive assistance from the Central Texas Coalition Against Human Trafficking (the Coalition). And while the Coalition provided Sindy with valuable services, she had no baby supplies for her new son; nothing for her return from the hospital – no crib, no diapers, no bottles, no changing pads…none of the things so many mothers expect and value.

That’s when the Coalition made a call for help on Sindy’s behalf to the Allies Against Slavery. Allies Against Slavery, simply called Allies by most, is an organization of volunteers united to activate and sustain community involvement in the anti-trafficking movement in Central Texas and to support the efforts of the Central Texas Coalition Against Human Trafficking. To accomplish that goal, Allies aims to be a local, credible, and up-to-date resource for information and a network for activism. At the core, Allies is all about harnessing the collective passion, creativity, and generosity of community members. Collaboration is part of the Allies DNA; diverse members volunteer their skills, time and creativity to establish a zero-tolerance environment for slavery and to address unmet needs of victims identified by professional service providers and the criminal justice system.
The first meeting of Allies fell on Juneteenth of 2010, as an informal, grassroots gathering. Membership has steadily grown to encompass over 300 Allies members in the network. Though a young organization, Allies has already achieved many successes, including the first annual Free Austin anti-trafficking initiative that took place in September 2011. Within a few months, Free Austin grew to encompass 12 awareness events that reached approximately 1,000 people across Central Texas. That success was largely due to more than 20 Free Austin and Allies partners that hosted events, provided volunteers, and “owned” the Free Austin vision, including Restore Communities.
The history of Allies reveals the three reasons it was founded – community-initiated interest, a demand for community awareness of human trafficking, and unmet needs of survivors. First, the Coalition was inundated with requests for volunteer involvement from the broader community, and a simple, ethical avenue to volunteer in the anti-trafficking movement had not yet materialized in Austin. Second, the Coalition is committed to training professionals in the field of social services and law enforcement. This leaves little time or human resources for awareness-raising and speaking engagements with community groups. ALLIES, therefore, was conceptualized as a way to creatively fill gaps in community awareness, through activities like Free Austin. And third, the Coalition’s funding often did not cover all of survivors’ needs. Sometimes survivors are caught in a precarious time between leaving the exploitative situation and gaining work authorization and/or stable employment. Other times, survivors come to the end of eligibility in public assistance and federally funded support programs yet are still not financially self-sufficient. Thus they may remain vulnerable to being re-trafficked.

Sindy faced a similar lack of resources for her new baby – resources the Coalition didn’t have the means to supply. The Coalition’s call for help soon turned into a call to action that spread like wildfire throughout the Allies network. A Target baby-registry was created for “Sindy Survivor”, and in less than three days more than $300 of in-kind donations was mobilized. Allies collected the donations, which were sorted and gift-wrapped, and the Coalition threw Sindy a baby shower when she came home from the hospital. After the baby shower, Sindy turned to her newborn son and said, “No one’s ever done something like this for us before…we’re never going to forget this day, are we.” Sindy never had direct contact with anyone in Allies that helped her that day, and they never got to meet Sindy or her baby son. But Allies volunteers were willing to be anonymous extraordinaries, motivated by the fact that they made a tangible impact in her life without ever needing to be personally recognized.
The work to end human trafficking is not quick and simple; it’s a long process that begins with an individual transformation, demands perseverance, and requires that we all work together – often without being personally recognized for our work. But be encouraged! I believe we’ll begin to see the end of human trafficking when our dedication to solution is well coordinated and resourced. And Allies is creating a space for that sort of collaboration; a space where the whole becomes a more powerful force for good than the sum of its parts. So take that first step off the couch and take part in a growing group of anonymous extraordinaries working right here in Austin, TX, with the Allies Against Slavery.

John Nehme, M.A. Political Economy
Co-Leader, Allies Against Slavery
Director of Outreach, Trade In Hope

Laurie Cook Heffron, LMSW
Co-Leader, Allies Against Slavery
UT Austin Institute on Domestic Violence & Sexual Assault

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