Though she was just a little girl at the time, Cathlene Miner can remember numerous car trips with her mom behind the wheel, driving her grandmother to the emergency room. Cathlene’s grandmother was the victim of domestic abuse and was regularly beaten up and bruised. She says, “I remember thinking to myself, ‘This is not normal. Why would anyone stay in a situation like this?’”
Today, Cathlene is a mother of four, grandmother, devoted wife, author of multiple books, podcast host, and the founder and president of Hopefull Handbags, a faith-based nonprofit organization dedicated to raising awareness for domestic violence and aiding in the recovery of domestic violence survivors by offering hope, support, and help. “Never underestimate the power of hope,” Cathlene says of establishing Hopefull Handbags in November of 2017. “We collect gently-used purses and fill them with necessities like hygiene products, toiletries, makeup, pocket calendars, and a message of hope – things any woman would need to get back on their feet.”
There are nearly a dozen drop-off locations around town where people can donate the items needed to create Hopefull Handbags – like High Tide Gallery, Ansbacher Law, and The Closet to name a few. The purses are then donated to organizations like the Betty Griffin Center and other domestic abuse shelters and outreach programs. “The purses help women with their self-perception,” says Cathlene. “These women don’t feel good about themselves – they’ve been beaten down, literally or figuratively.”
Cathlene estimates that at least 50 Hopefull Handbags are donated each month in St. Johns County alone. The nonprofit has also spread to encompass eight states in the U.S. and Caribbean, and they’re currently planting roots in Canada and the UK as well. Cathlene emphasizes that all money or goods donated in an area stay in that area. “There are organizations like Betty Griffin Center all over, but not everyone knows about them,” she admits. “Our mission is to raise awareness that domestic violence happens in many different ways and in every socioeconomic status.”
An advocate for self-care and wellness, Cathlene spends most of her time helping advise women on how to live their life with purpose. She spent more than a decade working as a supervisor at Mayo Clinic and is a certified Domestic Violence Advocate. She’s also the author of multiple books including The 30-Day Self Perception Makeover and The 30-Day Self Perception Makeover Teen Edition.
It’s been 30 years since Cathlene’s grandmother passed away, but her memory lives on every day in the work that Cathlene is doing with Hopefull Handbags. “What I have realized over all of this time is that there is not one reason why people stay in an abusive relationship,” she explains. “What people really need to know is that there is help and hope out there.”