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 Women who attended the first meeting of the Hudson Valley Latina Women Group. Double this amount attended their second meeting!
 Women who attended the first meeting of the Hudson Valley Latina Women Group. Double this amount attended their second meeting!

Meeting of Latina women in Newburgh 

Por Natalie Limon
May 2014
"Women are the most creative, they are the leaders in the community. But if we don't have the education or the experience we are left halfway," said Cecilia, a mother from Middletown who works in a nonprofit organization that supports agricultural workers. Like many hard-working immigrant Latina women, Cecilia knows how difficult it can be to support a family. Questions arise, but there is not much time to stop and answer them because women always have to continue with the routine of working and taking care of the family.

Local activist Laura García personally knows of this cycle through the experience of her own mother, and therefore wants to help. She ponders that being so busy caring for others, many mothers lose opportunities to develop and support themselves. That is why Garcia proposed the idea of forming a group of Latina women with the goal of giving them a space to focus on themselves, share experiences and problems, and discuss or achieve what they want. Garcia says, "The purpose is to be with a group of women who are open to new ideas and who also want to learn a little more about what resources are available because it is very important as Latinas to be educated and know what is offered in the community.”

From these ideas, a group emerged called Mujeres Latinas del Hudson Valley, a group open to anyone in this region that is identified as Latina. Although the group is taking its first steps, on the first meeting of March 19, women decided to meet every other week on Wednesdays between six and eight o’clock in the building of Downing Park in Newburgh. Garcia found voluntary teachers to attend the meetings and help the children with their homework, or entertain them while women are gathered. Their goal is to try to eliminate the obstacles preventing women to break with their daily routine once in a while to do something beneficial for themselves as much as possible. Garcia hopes that the women themselves will lead the group. Therefore, although it has the support of several local organizations, Garcia decided to not directly link her project with any organization.

The first meeting came about 10 women and several volunteers. The volunteers came from Newburgh, Middletown and New Windsor and were born in Mexico, Colombia and Peru. Some of the women already knew Laura through events that she organized in the past for the Hispanic community. They all share a strong desire to support and to be updated in positive activities. There were many ideas that aroused, from sharing their personal stories, cooking together and sharing recipes to other aspects of culture, watching movies, excursions, and always be present for emotional support, information and practical tips from their shared knowledge. María Moreno, one of the attendees said, "It is motivating to know that you are not alone, you're not the only one, there are other people going through the same pain or who went through similar things".

The Group decided to begin its activities with a workshop about self-esteem. Several showed desire to work for the Latino community, for example, cope with lack of constructive activities for adolescents. Cecilia added that first thy will have to start with themselves. "I want to be part of a group where women feel welcome, want to learn, when they return to their home they may have something to share with their children, with their husband, with their sisters, and with their family in general." "But in order to begin, a woman has to first discover herself. How can I be a leader if I don't appreciate myself, if I don’t identify myself, if I do not recognize that I am magnificent?"

Las Mujeres Latinas del Hudson Valley seems a safe space that held the place of women in the community and the family. Maria put words to the general feeling of the first meeting: "this is the first time that we met and is so nice, and we haven’t done anything yet.” With twenty attendees during the second meeting, the group is at full speed.

Contact:
For more information, please write or call Laura Garcia 914-805-4896, laura_G55@hotmail.com


*Translated into English by Tomás Guerrero and Odett Salcedo.



LA VOZ, Cultura y Noticias Hispanas del Valle de Hudson



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