Project HELP


Mission Statement:  Project HELP works with dignity and compassion to ease the pain of those affected by rape, violence, crime or loss of a loved one.

In 1986, Beth Knake ran the Crisis hotline at the David Lawrence Center. The helpline was available at that time from 9am to 5pm on Monday through Friday. Beth saw the need to have a helpline available 24/7 and made arrangements with David Lawrence Center to take the helpline on as its own community non-profit and thus beginning Project HELP’s great journey. Beth, a pioneer in the 80’s & 90’s, worked diligently with the Violence Against Women’s Act and movement as well as with the Victims of Crime Act. Beth worked on the State and Statewide Committees of Action and was one of the  founders in creation and development of the Florida Council Against Sexual Violence. The Florida Council Against Sexual Violence is now the State Certifying Agency for all Rape Crisis Centers in the State of Florida. Project HELP became one of the first Rape Crisis Centers certified in the state in August 1995. The helpline grew to include the Rape Crisis Center as well and began offering crisis intervention/counseling and court advocacy to all victims of crime through the Victims of Crime Act. 

In late 2006 Beth retired from the agency. Collier County continued to grow in population and the agency saw a greater need for their vital services. In 2010, Project HELP, with the assistance of a local church, successfully brought a forensic rape exam facility in-house to give our survivors of sexual violence a safe and confidential environment that helps revictimization.  

Project HELP also expanded its services offering traumatic grief therapy due to a sudden tragic death and our outreach program to bring awareness to our community through different community-based collaborations.  Project HELP is often seen participating in community events to distribute information, education and awareness to as many community members as we find it crucial for everyone to be aware of our services.

Today Project HELP’s team consists of a medical director, 2 Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners, an executive director, a clinical director, 9 victim advocates (2 bi-lingual; Spanish) and up to 30 volunteers. Each employee, volunteer, who work with victims on the team must complete state certification of 30 hours of Advocacy Core Training as well as 16 hours on the job training and 6 continuing education hours each year.

Project HELP has provided:

  • Counseling to 3,900 victims of violent crimes in 2019 and 3,700 to date in 2020. 
  • Assisted 3,320 individuals through the Criminal Justice Process in 2019 and 3,400 to date in 2020. 
  • Provided in our in-house forensic unit – 84 forensic exams for individuals who experienced a rape in 2019 and 38 to date in 2020.

Project HELP’s goal is always, and will always be empowering survivors to move forward and recover from what was taken away from them. To offer a judgement free atmosphere where survivors know that there is a place where they can freely talk about their past trauma.  Project HELP offers crisis intervention, coping skills, safety plans, and individual goal planning. Project HELP works with victims so they can recognize, face and solve problems arising from their trauma. We want to be sure all victims know their rights, and never feel alone because HELP is here.

With Warmest Regards

Vaneza Gonzales

Community Engagement 

HELPLine Coordinator

Project HELP, Inc.