History

Asian Family support Services of Austin (AFSSA), formerly known as SAHELI, was started in 1992 as an informal support group for Asian women living in the Austin area. When seeking assistance from mainstream domestic violence organizations, Asian victims of domestic violence face a number of unique obstacles including cultural and language barriers or threats to immigration status. Thus, the need for an organization to specifically focus on family violence in the Asian American community became clear. AFSSA was the first organization in Texas to address the issue of domestic violence in Asian communities and we are the only organization of this kind in the Central Texas area.

Our growth since 1992...

1993: Our mission and confidential telephone help line were established.

1994: We became a 501(c)(3) organization and operated as an all volunteer organization supported primarily by the community for twelve years.

2001: We started an AmeriCorps*VISTA program. With the help of full-time AmeriCorps*VISTA volunteers, and its capacity increased substantially over a period of three years.

2004: We were selected by the Texas Health and Human Services Commission's Family Violence Program to provide advocacy and community education as a Special Non-Residential Project. This award has made it possible to significantly expand our programs, and this allowed for the introduction of two employees.

2004: We formalized the Survivor Advocacy and Empowerment Program, which provides direct services to Asian victims and the Community Education Program, which provides information on Domestic Violence Resources to the community and works with communities to mobilize against violence.

2005: We hired our first Executive Director to oversee agency operations.

2007: We added another employee to drive the Economic Empowerment Program to help clients achieve long-term self sufficiency after leaving an abusive home. The program provides information and support for job training, housing education, and childcare.

2008: We created the System Advocacy Program to work with policy makers and institutions to ensure proper access to services for immigrant victims of domestic violence through proper policy implementation and procedures.

2009: Our System Advocacy Program began its Limited English Proficiency initiative, which collaborates with law enforcement, judicial systems and other social service providers to provide proper language access to victims of domestic violence. Also, we launched the 1000 Cranes Campaign to garner community support for programs and unveiled its annual fundraising event, Keep Austin Spicy: Asian Food and Culture Festival.

We have been recognized by the Texas Council on Family Violence, SafePlace, and The Political Asylum Project of Austin for our unique advocacy role, long-standing service, and commitment.

We would like to acknowledge the following individuals for making a strong commitment in combating domestic violence in the Asian Community: Zarine Gautam, Veena Gondhalekar, Swadesh Mahajan, Monica Mehta, Nisha Merchant Goss, Mamata Misra, Anamita Mukherjee, Suman Olivelle, Chin-Long Shu, Bhamathi Sudarshan, Chandra Sudhakar, Kalpana Sutaria