TAMPA (FOX 13) - Most women carry their wallet, keys, and maybe some makeup in their purse. But Nancy Gonzalez has turned the accessory into a necessity, thanks to her organization Mustard Seed Bags of Courage.
"The women that I deal with are all in domestic violence situations," Nancy explained.
Nancy knows what it's like to be trapped in an abusive relationship and remembers the night she finally got the courage to leave her abuser.
"It was heartbreaking for me the night after we left. I literally didn't have any toothpaste or toothbrushes for my children. And I felt like less of a mom because of that. Had I had a bag of courage to get through those first few nights, it might've made me feel better as a parent," she said.
Each bag of courage is filled with toiletries such as shampoo and conditioner, soap, toothpaste, deodorant -- all the basic things the women she helps will need to get through the first few nights on their own.
"Instead of carrying a plastic bag around, they're carrying a pretty purse and no one knows what's inside. And that might be the only thing that they have, but at least they're able to carry their essentials around," said Nancy.
Today, Nancy is proud to say she's a survivor. She left her abuser five years ago and now helps other women find freedom too.
"I have literally met women who just got out of the hospital after being beat up. I meet up with them so I can provide clothes for them and a bag, not only for them but for their children as well," Nancy continued.
Nancy started Mustard Seed Bags of Courage just three months ago and, thanks to donations from people in the community, she's already helped more than 300 women.
"I feel excited to know that I'm able to provide a little bit of peace and a little bit of independence for them," said Nancy.
But when it comes to the title of hometown hero, she's says it's the women she helps who are the true heroes.
"It's very hard and I know that from my experience. It's not that easy. It's not that easy to find the courage to do it and they're the heroes," she added.
Nancy is working on becoming a 501c3 organization, which will help her obtain the resources to plant her seeds of courage all across the country.