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Survivor Series: Layla’s Story

Layla, a young refugee single-mom of 3, was referred for case management by Mosaic’s Legal Program in late 2016. When our staff conducted the first home assessment, Layla was reluctant to answer our questions and showed some signs of aggression. Layla had experienced extreme pressure from others who wanted to take advantage of her.  She was asked to entertain men so she and her children can have a place to live in.  When she refused to do so, Layla and her children were kicked out of the apartment in the middle of the night. Fortunately, with the help of an American woman who felt sorry for her situation, Layla and her children moved from Georgia to Dallas.  The lady arranged to have Layla and her family live with someone for a few months.

Mosaic Family Services worked rapidly on securing a safe place for her family to live in.  Less than two months later, Layla and her children occupied their first safe apartment through Dallas Housing Authority. Also, through our relationships with other agencies, we were able to provide her with brand-new household items and bed linens.  In addition, we helped her receive SNAP benefits and Medicaid for her children.  Mosaic was a huge advocate for her in several other places as well.Besides all that, we aided in making appointments to visit family medical doctor, pediatrician, ophthalmologist and dental care for the children.  We also provided transportation and interpretation during all those appointments and follow ups.   Our Case Manager also encouraged her to find a job in order to provide for her growing children.  Fortunately, Layla secured a respectful job.  So, Mosaic provided an orientation on how to use the public transportation to get to and from her job.Mosaic Family Services also helped her to apply for section 8 voucher program. She got it and moved with her children into her new apartment.

In Layla’s birth country, she loved working with refugee children and photography.  We encouraged her to seek opportunities to practice her passion, and she got the opportunity to volunteer at an event.  She managed the filming and photography at the event.

Today, Layla is totally a different person.  There is always a smile on her face where before Mosaic stepped in she was so sad.  She considered her life miserable. Her hope was restored.  Layla learned how to trust herself and people who wanted to help her after she had lost trust in both. Her personality and outlook have positively changed.  She is giving back to the community. She could never be more thankful and grateful for her life nowadays.

Layla said “My children and I would have failed and lost without having the Mosaic stood beside us and provided all their great support and services. They helped me to be a human being again through showing me the real meaning of humanity and honesty. By far, Mosaic is the most credible agency that treated me like we are one family, not their client.”

Survivor Series: Ahmed’s Story

Ahmed was born in Syria during the time of the Syrian Civil War.  During the war, people were killed, injured, displaced within their country and sought refuge abroad.  Ahmed suffered injuries to his body and face in the war which eventually lead to his blindness.

Eventually, Ahmed and his family were able to leave Syria and seek safety in the United States. Ahmed was referred to Mosaic Family Services and one of our case managers, who spoke his language, was assigned to him.  Our Case Manager helped Ahmed apply for Supplemental Security Income, apply for a home care giver, get his ticket loan waved, apply for housing, and report a change in his address to the Health and Human Services in order to get Food Stamp benefits.  All of these efforts were approved and a success.

In recent times, our Case Manager has connected Ahmed to health resources to get medical care assistance which was extremely helpful to him and his family.  Mosaic also referred Ahmed to organizations that empowered visually impaired persons so that they can be truly mobile and independent.  This connection freed Ahmed from some of the limitations of his blindness.

Due to the services Mosaic provides, with the help of our gracious donors, Ahmed is now culturally orientated to the U.S.  He has access to all the resources he may need in order to become self sufficient.  Not to mention, he now has the confidence and determination needed to face the challenges of being a visually impaired refugee in the United States with a family.

Survivor Series: Joanna’s Story

Joanna’s Story

Joanna lived in Texas with her spouse and two children.  Sadly, she was being abused by her spouse.  One day she finally had enough, took her two children and ran away.  She moved in with her sister which was only a few miles away from her spouse’s home. Unfortunately, being so close Joanna continued to be harassed by her partner. Even though Joanna felt safer at her sister’s house, her harasser started to bother Joanna’s sister and brother-in-law as well. Not knowing what else to do, Joanna fled from her sister’s home for the safety of both her and her sister’s family.  This time she moved to a different state, where she had other family members and immediately changed her phone number. However, the abusive partner filed for divorce and custody of their children in the state of Texas.

Mosaic’s attorneys understood the severity of the situation which caused Joanna to flee. In union with the state that Joanna was now residing, our attorneys were able to secure a protective order for Joanna.  This allowed her to remain safe from the abuser.

Throughout the course of the divorce case, Joanna had to change her number several times because her former partner would continue to harass her.  In one instance, Joanna’s former partner called her 63 times.  As a result, Mosaic’s attorneys, with the coalition in her new state, were able to file a violation of Protective Order case in the state which Joanna lived.

In Texas, our attorneys were able to convince the court to allow all communication between Joanna and her former partner to be done through a third party, co-parenting website.  This was a win for Joanna since releasing any information, especially her number, would not be safe for her.

Additionally, Joanna feared traveling back and forth between her new home and Texas and feared seeing her abusive former partner in court. Mosaic’s attorneys were able to effectively advocate for Joanna to not only prepare for court hearings via telephone with our attorney’s but also testify in court over the phone.  She was able to tell her story on four different occasions without having to be in court with the person she feared.

Based on her testimony and advocacy from attorneys, we were able to secure an order that allowed Joanna to remain in the new state with her two children.  It also forced Joanna’s abusive former partner to have to travel to the state where Joanna and her children lived and meet them at a police station in order exchange the children. The court also ordered that the abusive partner would be solely responsible for all costs of travel for him and the children, which is nearly unheard of in Dallas County Courts. Mosaic, with the support of our donors, was able to keep Joanna and her children safe in her new state, where they were able to start a new life.

5th Circuit Protects Mosaic’s Records in Trafficking Case

Mosaic would like to express profound appreciation to attorneys from Holland & Knight and King & Spalding for their advocacy and for securing this important protection for Mosaic!

In November, Olga Murra was convicted on charges of forced labor based on evidence that she trafficked multiple victims from the time that they were children until they escaped as adults.

Link to article

The defense subpoenaed Mosaic’s case records, which potentially targeted case management, legal, and counseling files. Attorneys from Holland & Knight represented Mosaic during the trial to protect the legal and counseling files as privileged communications. The district court ordered that the records were protected under the psychotherapist-patient and attorney-client privileges.

The defense raised that ruling on appeal, arguing that the trial court erroneously prevented them from viewing the records. The same team of attorneys from Holland & Knight was joined by attorneys from King & Spalding, and they wrote a detailed amicus brief supporting the trial court’s decision. The 5th Circuit just published their decision, which upheld the trial court’s ruling.

The primary argument from the defense was that the records were not protected because the clients made their outcry to the social service agency knowing that agency would report their allegations to law enforcement. Moreover, the defense argued that the survivors waived the privilege by testifying about the same content during the trial. The 5th Circuit disagreed –

  • “A defendant does not get to crack open every confidential communication with a victim’s psychotherapist simply because that victim may have discussed facts with her psychotherapist that are relevant to the issues at trial.”
  • “The singular conclusion arising from this discussion is that Murra has failed to establish waiver. Murra cannot be permitted, as she seeks, to review confidential communications and then advise the court of the harm she suffered as a result of the withholding.”
  • “The victims’ testimony that they sought legal services from Mosaic because they believed they may be the victims of human trafficking does not amount to a waiver of the confidential communications attendant to those services. The victims have not, as Murra argues, disclosed a “significant portion of a confidential communication.” Rather, they have not disclosed any portion of their confidential communications, so there is no basis on which to rule that the privilege was waived.”

Link to article 

Special thanks to Christopher Healy, Mary Nix, Ashley Parrish, Jon Shepherd, Sara Schretenthaler, and Anne Voigts for all their tireless work.

Mosaic Gala Kickoff Party

Join us Wednesday, August 2nd from 6:30-8PM for our Gala Kickoff Party, hosted by the Akola Project.

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First Phase to Enhance the Look and Feel of Mosaic Family Shelter Complete

Image for ArticleLawyers Against Domestic Violence committee (LADV) volunteered to help Mosaic provide a more welcoming, comforting, and positive environment for clients to feel at ease in an unfamiliar place after having been through so much. With this in mind, LADV members spent a recent Saturday volunteering at Mosaic. Members painted Mosaic’s basketball court to a greenish blue instead of the drab grey concrete. Also, they restored Mosaic’s landscaping by removing gravel paths in the yard and replanting grass seed. All of this would not be possible without the help of our wonderful sponsors- Dane Kustes of DPR Construction, John Christensen of Five Star Painting, Jesus Rivera of Behr Paint, and Home Depot. LADV is very grateful for their support! This was just the first phase of LADV’s action plan for enhancing Mosaic’s facilities.

Remaining phases include getting a playground build on the grounds for the children of Mosaic to use, while also building an animal shelter onsite so that survivors can keep their pets with them when they come to Mosaic. The remaining projects will require significant fundraising. You can contribute by participating our upcoming fundraising events or by contributing directly to our fundraising link.

To read the full article written by Ford Harmon please click on this link

Why We Work on Drug Abuse Prevention: The MYSAP Program

By Claudia Carballal, staff member.

THE UNITED STATES IS FACING AN OPIOID MISUSE CRISIS THAT HAS BECOME A DEADLY HEALTH CARE DISASTER.  THE MULTICULTURAL YOUTH SUBSTANCE ABUSE PROGRAM (MYSAP) AT MOSAIC FAMILY SERVICES UTILIZES PREVENTION RESOURCES WITH THE GOAL OF REDUCING DRUG MISUSE AND ABUSE AMONG TEENAGERS AND ADULTS, BECOMING A CRITICAL PART OF THE SOLUTION TO THE CURRENT DRUG EPIDEMIC.

 

According to the New York Times, the national opioid crisis has become the leading cause of death for people under 50 years old in the United States: “today, heroin addiction and prescription opioid misuse have become a 50-state epidemic, a deadly health care disaster overwhelming local, state and federal officials.”  The National Institute on Drug Abuse estimated that as many as seven million Americans abused prescription medications in 2010.  The biggest challenge that we are facing right now is finding a balance between the medicinal benefits of opiates and their highly addictive nature that is causing people to abuse them and overdose.

According to Princeton University, natural opiate drugs come from natural opium alkaloids, which include morphine, heroine, and codeine. There are also synthetic opiates that are being prescribed in the United States as pain relievers, sedatives, tranquilizers, and stimulants. Of these synthetic opiates, fentanyl and demerol are the most common. But there’s a third wave of synthetic opiates that are more potent. Fentanyl, one of the most popular and widely prescribed, is 50 times more potent than heroin. This has become the focus of the current opioid overdose crisis.

Many organizations and community coalitions are investigating the causes and effects of opioid addiction and working on possible solutions to this problem. Drug abuse prevention efforts seem to be a key component in solving this crisis. For example, based on the need for prevention measures related to the emergence of prescription drug misuse, the Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) is conducting regional Town Halls to discuss suggested best practices and solutions to prevent prescription drug misuse.  No single cause has been linked to all addictions to opiates; both genetic and environmental causes seem to play a role. But it has been widely accepted that people with a “sensation seeking” personality and conduct related to dopamine addiction, are more likely to use drugs including the highly addictive and dangerous opiates. Preventive measures and education are a key component for solving opiate misuse problems.

But what are preventive measures? In the early 1990s, the U.S. Congress directed the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) to work with the Institute of Medicine (IOM) to develop a long-term prevention research program distinguishing between prevention and treatment efforts (Dozois & Dobson, 2004; Munoz, 2001). Since then, preventive measures have been implemented with the goal of bringing about change in the community.  Selective interventions target specific segments of the population that are considered “at-risk” for using or abusing drugs. These measures have shown to make major improvements in the targeted populations. At Mosaic Family Services, the MYSAP program works on selective preventive measures by educating the community on current drug issues, drug trends, the negative effects of drugs on the mind and body, and the devastating consequences for our communities. We utilize prevention resources with the goal of reducing drug misuse and abuse among teenagers and adults.

 

Gonchar M. and Grosson C. Investigating the Heroin and Prescription Opioid Epidemic: A Lesson Plan, May 4, 2017. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/04/learning/lesson-plans/investigating-the-heroin-and-prescription-opioid-epidemic-a-lesson-plan.html

The New York Times, “The Daily” Podcast. June 22, 2017 at 4:39 AM (Audio).

Hooley, J. M. Abnormal Psychology, Ch. 17 (17th Edition).

Effectiveness of Coordinated Services for Survivors of Domestic Violence

Abstract:

A research study shows that legal services, combined with psychological services like counseling therapy, improve the mental health of survivors of domestic violence.

Full Article:

Mosaic Family Services serves over 30,000 people each year through direct services and outreach, our clients include children, women and men, survivors of domestic violence, human trafficking and refugees. Our clients often present symptoms of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and victimization due to the abuse that they have endured.  Our coordinated services—legal, counseling, shelter, education, and advocacy— make a huge difference in our client’s lives.  This system of coordinated services has been backed up by a research study published in December 2012 by the Journal of Traumatic Stress. Legal services, combined with psychological services like counseling therapy, can improve the mental health of survivors of domestic violence.

In this study, a group of 147 women living in shelters were interviewed at 6 months post-shelter and asked whether they had a restraining or protective order against their abuser that allowed them to minimize contact.  The study showed that PTSD symptoms and incidents of sexual re-victimization decreased from baseline to 6 months post-shelter for women who had a protective order compared to women who did not have a protective order.

The results of the study support the model of offering coordinated services, like legal and counseling services, because it relates to the concept of therapeutic jurisprudence— the study of the effects of law and the legal system on the behavior, emotions, and mental health of people.  In other words, women who have a protective order improve their mental health in a more significant way than women without a protective order.  It seems that the sense of control and safety that some legal interventions offer can act as a therapeutic agent for survivors of domestic violence.  At Mosaic, we are proud to contribute to the ideals of social justice and therapeutic jurisprudence through our coordinated services to women in Dallas.

By Claudia Carballal, staff member

Litigation Section of the State Bar of Texas Award!

We are thrilled to announce and express our gratitude for our grant award from the Litigation Section of the State Bar of Texas! For several years, the Litigation Section has supported Mosaic and our Legal Department in various ways, including through their grant program.

This year, the Litigation Section awarded Mosaic’s Multicultural Legal Department $9,500.00 to assist with litigation expenses for domestic violence and human trafficking survivors. These funds will be utilized to assist survivors during divorce and custody proceedings, including by paying fees for service, social studies, mediation, and interpretation expenses. This helps maximize survivors’ access to legal systems.

The Litigation Section of the State Bar of Texas is organized to promote the ends of justice through education and nonprofit activities and services which improve the administration of our justice system, which advance public education and understanding of our judicial system, and which are sensitive to the needs of the public as well as the legal profession.

The Litigation Section’s grant program awards varying amounts to promote educational and charitable activities that improve the administration of our justice system, advance public education and understanding of the judicial system, and are sensitive to the needs of the public and the legal profession. The Litigation Section Grant Program seeks to support and promote programs which improve and support the Texas justice system through research, services, publications, institutes, forums and public education.

Study Shows Human Trafficking and its impact today

There are more than 300,000 victims of human trafficking in Texas, including nearly 80,000 of them children, according to a newly released study by University of Texas at Austin researchers. CLICK HERE for access to full study!

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