A local non-profit dedicated to ending family violence in the area has recently ramped up its efforts to assist victims. Texoma Alliance to Stop Abuse (TASA) recently hired Rachel Lira to serve as the non-profit’s first full-time executive director. Lira, who previously served as part-time executive director, assumed the full-time role in March of this year.
“I am so excited to be working on combating the serious issue of family violence in my hometown and the surrounding area,” stated Lira. “We are here to make sure that survivors of family violence have all of the support they need to remain safe and healthy.”
Lira graduated from Vernon High School, attended Vernon College, and received her bachelor’s degree in Sociology from Midwestern State University. Prior to becoming executive director, Lira was a rural case manager for at-risk youth for a nationwide non-profit. She says that while this is her first full-time job working in the family violence field, she became interested in the topic after taking a college class and then seeing a loved one go through an abusive experience. “A niece of mine was in an abusive dating relationship when she was in high school here in Vernon,” stated Lira. “Seeing all of the difficulties that she experienced and the lack of available services really opened up my eyes to the need in our community.”
Lira started as a volunteer at TASA who attended their annual family violence rallies each year. By 2017 she was a board member of the organization and eventually she began working directly with victims as assistant coordinator of the Domestic Violence High Risk Team. She has received extensive training at the annual Conference on Crimes Against Women in Dallas as well as through the prestigious Institute for Community Coordinated Response. Lira says that she feels honored to serve as executive director. “I am dedicated to keeping victims safe and to raising awareness about family violence in our community.”
TASA, founded in 2013, provides free, confidential and comprehensive services to survivors of intimate partner violence. This includes risk and needs assessments, safety planning, counseling, transportation to shelter outside of Vernon, assistance with protective orders, and limited temporary financial assistance. While TASA’s primary objective is to provide services to victims, they also operate a batterer intervention and prevention program that is aimed at reorienting the thinking and behavior of men who abuse. The twenty-seven week program is primarily for men who have been court-ordered to participate, but others have joined voluntarily as well.
TASA’s offices are open Monday through Friday from 8:00am to 5:00pm in the Herring Bank Building in downtown Vernon. For assistance, please call 940-473-5072.