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Newsletters Proposal Brief

“Voices: The Family Abuse Services Newsletter”


Report Distributed October 20, 2011

Prepared by: Maggie Achey, Emily Bishop, Victoria Doose, 
Liz Purvis, Kevin Thompson, Brittany Wheatley


Prepared for Dr. Rebecca Pope-Ruark, Project Manager and Publications Director, PWR Publishing

Also Prepared for Ms. Rousseau & Ms. Shook, Family Abuse Services Liasons


In working with Family Abuse Services of Alamance County, Dr. Pope-Ruark, Ms. Rousseau, and Ms. Shook decided that updating the FAS newsletter would be a project that mutually benefited the organization and the fall publishing class. Because there has not been a newsletter for FAS in over a year and there is no template from which to work, our group began by creating a template for the fall newsletter. In creating a template, we hope to provide a reusable outline for successive newsletters.

The purpose of this newsletter is to keep those who receive it—namely those involved with FAS and other nonprofit organizations—informed about what FAS does. This includes the different services FAS has to offer as well as its events and volunteer opportunities. We also want the newsletter to encourage those who read it to recognize the need to get involved with FAS, either through volunteering or through donations.

Proposed Product

One of the key steps in writing and designing the newsletter was figuring out who the audience is going to be. Understanding our audience allows us to make rhetorical decisions about the newsletter so that the content, tone, voice, and design are tailored to our readership. Based on our brainstorming, we decided that the audience that is most likely to read the newsletter is made up of a mix of middle class, educated professionals working in civil services similar to FAS. This means that we have tailored our design and content to an audience that is educated and aware, if not completely informed, of domestic abuse and similar social issues. Since our goal is to get our audience involved, we wanted to keep the tone of the newsletter positive while focusing on what FAS is doing and what effect its work is having on the community. In addition, our hope is that readers will either keep FAS in mind to suggest to friends interested in volunteer work or use the newsletter as a type of best practices source for their own organization.  


The newsletter is tentatively titled Voices. FAS is a multifaceted organization, and to reflect the multiple services offered and people aided, it seemed most appropriate to choose a title that encompasses both a sense of community and the idea of plurality. The word “voices” suggests many people speaking as one in service of a single cause. As a publication that will reach a wide range of community members and provide information on a variety of FAS services and events, the newsletter in itself is a representation of all those voices speaking for (and about) FAS.

Since the title is brief, we have made sure to include the subtitle “The Family Abuse Services Newsletter” to clarify what the organization creating the newsletter is. Using a creative main title with a strictly informative subtitle is an effective way to first capture the reader’s attention and then explain what the content of the document will address.

The purple domestic abuse awareness ribbon serves as the visual framework for the newsletter header. It is important to create a consistent use of the ribbon across FAS’ various documents, including the website and PowerPoint; using the ribbon to underline the newsletter title immediately creates an association to the recognized icon of domestic abuse awareness. The extended horizontal portion of the ribbon is also used to highlight the subtitle and once again create an immediate association between FAS and the domestic abuse ribbon.


The fall newsletter will primarily focus on FAS program profiles to give the audience a better idea of what services FAS offers. When Ms. Rousseau and Ms. Shook initially spoke to our Publishing class, they talked about their desire to have a newsletter that focuses on each of the specific programs. As a group, we decided that this would be the crux of the newsletter.  It gives the community a greater sense of what FAS does by raising awareness and hopefully encouraging donating and volunteering.

The next step in our process was to designate specific sections within the newsletter to each FAS program. We also determined what other content would be included in the publication, and from there we assigned the stories to particular pages within the newsletter.

On the first page, we plan to focus on the Candlelight Vigil because we feel that it is an attention grabber for the audience and is one of the largest events hosted by FAS this year. There is a place for a picture to add color and character to the front page. The event is a great way to showcase what FAS is doing in a way that is both educational and entertaining. The article will include a firsthand account of the event through the reporting of two of our group members who attended the vigil. We also included the mission statement because we felt that the audience should have a general understanding of the work of FAS. Since the newsletter will be sent out via e-mail to the broader community, everyone should have a baseline understanding of the organization. The names of Board of Directors members are included on the bottom in order to recognize the members for their services. In addition, there is a letter from the director to give the director the opportunity to explain what is new within FAS.

The next page will include information for the audience to get involved and volunteer. We will feature an article on the different ways to volunteer such as the crisis line, court advocacy program, and shelter support. We will also have a column featuring how to donate since our purpose of the newsletter is to persuade readers to volunteer. There also is a section for upcoming events to keep the community informed about not only what has already happened but also what is going to occur to encourage participation. A section for overflow is also included on page two in case we need more room for the Candlelight Vigil or program sections.

Next, page three will feature a survivor story with a personal account of domestic violence. This will focus on the ethos and pathos of the survivor. Appealing to the emotions of the reader, we focus on this to encourage action and participation. Also on page three, we plan to include an article on the Transitional Housing and Emergency Shelter programs. Two of our group members visited FAS and interviewed Merry White, the shelter director. From this interview, we took her information and quotes and translated it into an article profiling the services provided within the Transitional Housing and Emergency Shelter. The article is written in a journalistic style and gives a personal touch on the department through quotes.

The final page is focusing entirely on the department profiles of Community Education, Court Advocacy, and Safe Exchange. The Community Education will focus on the different programs FAS offers, such as WAVE. A member of the newsletter group attended a session of the WAVE program and interviewed Ms. Shook. The article will include quotes and stories to give the article color and engage the audience. The next article will include information on Court Advocacy. With a firsthand account of the program, the article will feature both observations from the court and quotes from Morgan Morris.  Finally, the article about Safe Exchange will feature information from the interview Bethany Sanford. This will also feature quotes and an explanation of the program to educate the audience. If space allows, we will include a section on Thank Yous to give credit to donors and volunteers.


When creating the template for the newsletter, one of the things we considered was the software available to FAS. We chose to use Microsoft Publisher in creating the template because the past newsletters were written in this layout software and, rather than taking up the staff members’ time to teach them how to use a new kind of software, we felt that using one they were familiar with would be more easily accepted and useful. We also chose to keep the document at four pages in order to make the newsletter a manageable project for FAS to complete every fall and spring.

The first page in the newsletter is important for setting the tone and what to expect in the rest of the newsletter. On the front page, we have the mission statement, the letter from the director, the board of directors, and a feature on the Candlelight Vigil. The mission statement and the letter from the director are elements placed on the front page because they address the purpose of Family Abuse Services, the most important idea for readers to take away. The Board of Directors is placed on the front page as well in order to highlight the people involved with FAS. The feature on the Candlelight Vigil is a main event that happens annually in the fall. Its recency and importance are why the event makes the front page. The front page is broken up with a picture of the event and a banner heading with the title of the newsletter “Voices” that incorporates the purple domestic abuse awareness ribbon. The ribbon has a gradient of purples which is taken throughout the rest of the newsletter document to break up white space and create separation between articles.

The second page of the document is dedicated to community involvement, which is the secondary purpose of the newsletter, with the first being to have the message of what FAS is delivered to others. The community involvement is broken down into four ways by which the community can get involved, with a donation list on the side and the upcoming events under the donations list. The donations list is in a purple box to bring attention to itself from the rest of the pages. The upcoming events are short in length, thus the smaller box.

Page three,is going to be a feature page, so we wanted to break up the page into two major sections to accommodate the longer articles.  Keeping with the theme from previous pages we used color to differentiate between the two sections. We also wanted to include a statistics section somewhere within the newsletter, and we decided this page would be the best fit for it because it serves to add some contrast to the page and breaks up the symmetry.

Page four has similar theories to those of the last page. The page is segmented into larger sections to accommodate longer articles as well as the use of color to break the page up.


Thursday, October 20: Kevin and Liz attend the Candlelight Vigil in order to get content and a picture for the cover story of the newsletter. Over the weekend they will write the story. Meanwhile, Victoria will be editing and giving feedback to Maggie, Brittany, and Emily about their articles.

Tuesday, October 24: We will fill out the template with our polished articles. Ms. Rousseau will also be providing us with the names for the “Thank You” section, as well as her Letter from the Director.

Thursday, October 27: We will send Ms. Shook and Ms. Rousseau the completed template. While we wait for their feedback and continue to discuss the font choices as well as the overall design.  Once Ms. Shook and Ms. Rousseau get back to us, we will do any final editing with the graphics, layouts, and fonts.

Tuesday, November 1: We send FAS the final, completed newsletter, a working template for future newsletters, and additional material for future article ideas.

DRAFT: This module has unpublished changes.
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DRAFT: This module has unpublished changes.

Court Advocacy

    Every Monday at the Alamance County courthouse, court advocate Tracy Barlett is present to give guidance and support to the clients who have been working with Family Abuse Services. The FAS Court Advocacy Program empowers its clients by being supportive before and after the court proceedings and working with them to create a safety plan.

     Clients come to the Court Advocacy Program when they begin to think that legal action is necessary for their future safety and happiness. Leaving is not always an easy decision: on average, women try to leave seven times before succeeding. Second guessing and fear about the court process, her safety, and her future after the ruling cast shadows on her decision. However, Barlett states: 

     “I can be an ear for them if they need to vent,” she said.

     When a client comes to Court Advocacy, they are seeking protection with a 50(b) court order, which demands the distance of an abuser and is designed to protect the survivor. What they can also expect is a court advocate who is going to help them create a safety plan and teach them to work the court independently. A safety plan prepares the clients for the possibility of future abuse by making the clients think of where they would go, who they can trust for help, and what items they would need if they had to leave quickly.

     The 50(b) is part of the safety plan court advocates like Barlett, Kali Geskus, and Morgan Morris teach the clients about. There are other components, as well. Each court advocate provides her client with a purple folder in which to keep information for the court case. Inside the purple folder is a 50(b) form, a FAS Client Case Notes printout, instructions for preparation and presentation in the court, guidelines for creating a safety plan, a “power and control” wheel that shows the different kinds of domestic violence, and a flyer for a women’s support group. The court advocates and volunteers work with the clients to go over the information and prepare them for the next step: court.

     A court advocate is not the same thing as an attorney or legal aid. Although a court advocate can be present at the court proceedings, they are unable to give legal advice or instruction because they are not court certified. In the courtroom, the importance of the court advocates comes from their supportive presence. Asking how clients are feeling and going over what will happen in the courtroom next is part of meeting the clients’ needs.

     By making themselves available, FAS encourages their clients to take the next legal step, guide them through the court system, and support their decisions.

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Hispanic Outreach

     The Hispanic Outreach Program provides Spanish translation of other FAS programs and services and offers additional resources and services to the Hispanic populace in Alamance County.

     Headed by Tracy Barlett, Hispanic Outreach meets the needs and overcomes the barriers that are distinctive of the Hispanic community when faced with family abuse. The threats of deportation, a lack of affordable representation, and the length of time it takes to build trust in the community restrict their movements. With the Community Education Program working alongside places like Centro la Comunidad, a Hispanic community organization located in Burlington, NC, news about Hispanic Outreach is made available.

     Within each FAS program, the Hispanic Outreach adds additional help. In the Court Advocacy Program, Barlett translates verbal and textual communications between the client and the legal aid. Before and after court proceedings, the client is shown of available resources, from food to classes for job-skill improvement. A more recent development within Hispanic Outreach is a support. This support group of eight to ten Hispanic women opened in December. {Note: Add more information about the support group here; article was written prior to its development.}

     “They all need a voice, which is hard to translate in paper,” Barlett said.

DRAFT: This module has unpublished changes.