Empowering the Voiceless – Project SAVE

Published in our 2014 Annual Report.

Elyria Chambliss is a hard working mom. Her three children, Aaliyah, 11, John, 6 and Jiron, 9, bounce energetically around the play room at the New Orleans Family Justice Center. When asked to gather for a photo, all three children eagerly gather in close to their mom for the snapshot. After several silly faces and poses, the family comes together for a nice smile. Elyria smiles brightly as she embraces her children. It’s hard to imagine that this family photo might not have been possible a short while ago. Elyria is a survivor of domestic violence. In the process of trying to separate from the abusive situation, the father of her children attempted to take away her custody rights to care for her kids. Elyria not only needed to stand up for her own well-being but also needed to be a voice for her children. With no one to turn to and no ability to afford an attorney, she went to the first court hearing alone.

Elyria recalled, “The first time I went to court, I felt so uncomfortable. I didn’t have a chance to voice my opinions to let the judge know my side and what was actually going on.”

Thankfully, Elyria was connected with the legal team at Project SAVE.

Once I got in touch with Project SAVE, they helped me in a big way.

Project SAVE (Stopping Abuse through Victim Empowerment) provides free emergency legal assistance for victims of domestic violence. Staff attorneys assist with legal orders to keep survivors of domestic violence safe and to protect their rights. These legal services include temporary restraining and protection orders, temporary child support and in Elryia’s case, assistance with maintaining custody of her children.

Joan Miller with Elyria Chambliss and Allyson Tuttle

With attorney Joan Miller at her side, Elyria was able to find the courage and strength she needed to speak up for herself and her kids. “Next time I went to court, I felt like I had a voice. It felt wonderful to know I had that support.”

The help doesn’t stop after the court proceedings end. Project SAVE works hand in hand with the New Orleans Family Justice Center to provide full-circle support for the victim and for their families. Elyria and her children were also able to receive on-going counseling through this program.

“The staff at Project SAVE gets the job done!” Elyria said. “They gave me the chance to be with my kids again.”

Whether making big strides like helping clients get custody of their children or providing an and an open ear to listen and offer support, Project SAVE is advocating for survivors like Elyria, helping them find their strength and their voice to speak up for themselves and their families.