World Refugee Day, Through the Eyes of a CST Volunteer

“Certainly, for the refugees attaining their US citizenship at the ceremony and for the numerous other refugees who have been here awhile or who aspire to become citizens, the World Refugee Day celebration at the Texas History Museum has a profound personal significance. For me also, as a new volunteer at CST and a relatively new Austinite, it was a momentous occasion. I was, for the first time, immersed in the remarkably multifaceted, colorful, and festive manifestation of something that I had been inspired by indirectly. This was my chance to experience the size and the vibrancy of the refugee population firsthand.

 

Smiling Iraqi children crafted thank you cards at CST’s table. A Congolese teenager performed a powerful spoken word piece. A well-dressed (some in traditional attire from their homelands) crowd ate delicious food and drummed together. An Iraqi man played an evocative piece on the oud. Downstairs, organizations committed to helping refugees handed out literature and engaged guests, while families posed for professional photographs. I found myself wanting to take photos, a sign that I was feeling inspired – happy to be in a city like Austin where this is possible and happy to bear witness to this tribute to survivors. Their joyful energy was infectious. I had a sense of being in a realm in which I want to spend more time, of being around people I want to know better.”

– Kevin L., CST Volunteer

Multiple musicians and bands from all over the world performed at World Refugee Day. Photos courtesy of Kevin L.

 

 

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CST In the Press

Make sure to check out our Matching Campaign from The Meadows Foundation coverage from the Dallas Morning News HERE and our involvement with World Refugee Day in the Austin American Statesman HERE.

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From The Executive Director – June 2013

Dear CST supporters,

Every day, women, men, and children are tortured or ill-treated with the intention of destroying their sense of dignity and human worth. In too many countries, people’s legitimate demands for freedom and human rights are met with brutal repression.
Yesterday was International Day in Support of Victims of Torture and we express our solidarity with, and support for, the hundreds of thousands of victims of torture and their family members throughout the world who endure such suffering.
I want to extend a sincere thank you for your support and continuing interest in Center for Survivors of Torture. It is my great pleasure to share with you that we have passed the 2,000 mark in the provision of quality mental health services for refugees and asylum seekers to restore their spirit and rebuild their lives.
Please do not forget to make your pledge to help CST clients through The Meadows Foundation’s matching grant by October 2013.
Warmest regards,
Celia VanDeGraaf
Executive Director
director@cstnet.org

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Monthly Learning Luncheons for Torture Treatment Providers to be Hosted by CST

Join CST Executive Director, Celia VanDeGraaf and staff on May 1, 2013 for an open discussion regarding the provision of services to torture survivors at our “Brown Bag Learning Luncheon”.

All providers who would like guidance in order to work with survivors are welcome to attend. “Learning Luncheon” will be an ongoing service to providers on the first Wednesday of each month at our Austin office at 9415 Burnet Road Suite 201 or by request via WEBEX. Please call (512)358-4612 for additional questions.

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Meadows Foundation Will Double Your Generous Donation to CST

The Meadows Foundation of Dallas, Texas has awarded a grant of $100,000 to Center for Survivors of Torture and will match $1:$1 for funds that we are able to raise up to $50,000, between February 6 and October 31, 2013. This means every dollar that you donate to help survivors of torture will be doubled! Please join us in the matching funds campaign!

The Meadows Foundation is among the most recognized private philanthropies in the country, both for its grantmaking practices and its active engagement in advancing the field of private philanthropy.

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The Hammill Foundation Awards $7,500 For Disabled Survivors

The Donald D. Hammill Foundation in Austin, Texas has awarded $7,500 to Center for Survivors of Torture to assist disabled torture survivors. This grant will enable CST to provide services to a growing population in our community that would otherwise face limited resources or be overlooked.

The Donald D. Hammill Foundation’s mission is to improve the quality of life for people who have disabilities, the aged, and people who are financially disadvantaged, including the working poor and those who are indigent or chronically ill.

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From the Executive Director – April 2013

Dear Friends and Supporters,

In May, I will celebrate eight remarkable years at CST. As I review the past eight years, I can say without reservation that each year’s accomplishments surpass those of the previous year. I attribute these impressive milestones to the stewardship of the Chairman and the Board of Directors in advancing CST’s mission, to the boards’ substantive contributions, and to our professional staff, whose focused commitment and spirit keep the organization strategically impactful.
This month’s newsletter charts the robust growth path of CST, including a new grant from the Donald D. Hammill Foundation for disabled torture survivors, as well as the launching of monthly learning luncheons to provide clinical guidance for counseling collaborators.

Warmly,

Celia VanDeGraaf
Executive Director
director@cstnet.org

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Where to Donate This Spring?

Remember to think of CST as you begin spring cleaning this year! We are always in need of in-kind donations and they are always tax-deductible.

Our Wish List:
Bus Passes (Austin and Dallas)
Clothes and shoes
Blankets, bedding
Household goods
Toiletries
Backpacks
Snack foods for clients before appointments
Juice
Office paper

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Learning Luncheon Hosted by CST

Join CST Executive Director Celia VanDeGraaf and Clinical Director Samantha McGrath for an open discussion regarding the provision of services to torture survivors at our first “Brown Bag Learning Luncheon”. Both Celia and Samantha will be available to answer your questions on our first meeting from 12:00pm-1:00pm on Wednesday April 10th.

All providers who would like supervision in working with survivors are welcome to attend. “Learning Luncheon” will be an ongoing service to providers on the first Wednesday of each month at our Austin office. Please call (512)358-4612 for additional questions.

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Torture Treatment Training a Success in Austin

Over 160 professionals from all over Texas joined CST in our exclusive torture treatment training in Austin, Texas on March 6 and 7. Jim Lavelle, LICSW from the Harvard Program in Refugee Trauma (HPRT), and Dr. Hawthorne Smith, from the Bellevue/NYU Program for Survivors of Torture (PSOT) joined local experts Dr. Karin E. Montero, Edna Yang, J.D., and Ben Warner, Ph.D., LPC, in providing educational workshops on how providers can successfully work with torture survivors.

With Texas ranking 1st in refugee resettlement but 51st (behind Washington, DC) in mental health funding, this training was a great opportunity to discuss how to better provide services for this underserved population.


Dr. Hawthorne Smith presenting on “Marginalization and Safety: A Trauma Informed Approach”


CST Counselor Carmel T. Drewes, LCSW and CST Clinical Director Samantha McGrath, LPC-S

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