The Friends of Tamar is a community of survivors of sexual violence in all its forms, and the volunteers who have helped them start a new life. Through faith and friendship, we work to transform darkness and despair into sunlight and hope. Our most active initiative to date is called the Suitcase Project. Often, survivors of violence find themselves unable to return home and without any material goods. We provide a packed bag – we call them rays of hope – with approximately three days of essential material goods for survivors, and their children in those cases, as they move into transitional living arrangements. In 2015, we delivered 120 of these bags to survivors via social service partners in the Omaha, Nebraska metro area.
Thanks to the UTO grant, we’ve been able to significantly expand this effort by having the temporary staff resources to create new partnerships and funding possibilities. Not only have we delivered over 90 bags in the Omaha area during the first five months of 2016, but we’ve also been blessed to create a network of participating churches supporting survivors in their communities throughout the diocese of Nebraska. The Suitcase Project was featured on an evening news report in March. Having dedicated staff also allowed us to research the feasibility of other initiatives in to address the systemic causes of violence in our communities and find the best ways to continue expanding our efforts to combat violence with love.