Community donates thousands of dollars of supplies to Friendship of Women

Crime Victims Unit at Cameron County District Attorney's Office Coordinator Liliana Mendez, from left, and CCDA Community Outreach Specialist Yvette Vela place bags of donated hygiene items during a drive-thru donation drive hosted by CCDA Office to benefit Friendship of Women and both victims and survivors of domestic violence Wednesday morning. (Miguel Roberts/The Brownsville Herald)

A call for help has been answered by the Cameron County District Attorney’s Office Crime Victims Unit with the department collecting more than $3,000 worth of hygiene supplies to be given to Friendship of Women.

Because of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic Friendship of Women has not been able to hold its fundraisers that help them buy the supplies that are needed.

Friendship of Women reached out to the Crime Victims Unit to see if they could provide some assistance, said Daisy Lopez, victim and education manger of Friendship of Women.

“We did have fundraisers initially planned even in April and October, we normally have as well another major fundraiser. Those fundraisers we had to cancel and so it has been difficult and it has taken a toll on the financial contributions and in person donations we receive as well…it has absolutely taken a big hit because of the pandemic,”Lopez said.

Lopez said she reached out to the Crimes Victims Unit in the past and was hoping they would be able to help them again.

“We were really just trying to help keep up the momentum with October Domestic Violence and Prevention Month ending and seeing how we can really keep the support in the community going,” Lopez said.

Yvette Vela, community education specialist, said she was asked to come up with something to help the non-profit organization locally. Most of the drop off locations for the drive-thru donation drive were in the Upper Valley.

She came up with holding a drive-thru event in Brownsville and started contacting people and businesses she knows seeking assistance.

“I immediately kicked it into overdrive and started posting an event, tagging people and hitting up all my friends that have businesses. Everybody just came together. We have been so blessed with all the donations we have received,” she said.

“People are being very generous. What tugs at my heart is the men who are making the donations of the good smelling soaps, the feminine products, the deodorants and all the nice things that we kind of take for granted on a daily basis,” Vela said.

According to an April 2020 report in the American Journal of Emergency Medicine, cases of domestic violence have increased across the world because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Reports from near the epicenter of the COVID-19 outbreak in China indicate domestic violence tripled in February 2020 compared to February 2019.

In the United States, data from San Antonio shows domestic family violence calls increased by about 18 % in March of 2020 compared to March 2019.

Lopez said her agency has seen an increase and decrease in calls seeking help.

“We have kind of gone through this roller coaster…. We are getting an increase of hotline calls and also calls from sexual assault survivors. We are also getting calls for shelter. Because of the pandemic we did have to limit some of the space at our shelters to put in those safety and health practices.”

Friendship of Women has used local hotels and motels for shelter but it all depends on how much funding the agency receives.

Anyone interested in helping out Friendship of Women can reach out to the agency on line at: They call also call (956) 544-7412. They can also reach out to the agency on its Facebook, Twitter and Instagram social media pages.

“We are really just a message away in any way that they would like to help and support us,” Lopez said.