El Amanecer - The Sunrise
The Monthly Newsletter of the Spanish American Center, Inc.
Volume III, Issue 4
April, 2018
News & Notes From Neddy, April, 2018

Happy spring!

   Now that the warm weather is around the corner and the days are brighter the Spanish American Center is planning special events that will take place during April. We are inviting many of the families and individuals that came from Puerto Rico and are living here to meet on Friday April 6th to reflect on the 6 month anniversary of how Hurricane Maria changed the lives of all Puerto Ricans. We will have a round table discussion of people’s experiences on the mainland and their losses in Puerto Rico. This will give them the opportunity to express the deep difficulties and the emotional toll that the Maria’s aftermath caused.
     April is also the Month where we start planning our Summer Youth Program. This year we are aiming to sponsor (provide meals for) 14 sites, adding a new one. It is a month that is extremely busy for us. We are invited to participate in so many events within the city and out of the area. We try to attend as many as possible, for us this is very important, it gives us the opportunity to collaborate and in many instances become partners with so many others.  Also in this issue:  
  • We introduce our newest Board member, Ruby Vargas of Fidelity Bank.
  • News from our funding sources, donors and grants
  • SAC 's NEW Support Group for new Arrivals
  • Article "Demystifying Restraining Order" bt our DV supervisor Atty. Nicolas Formaggia
  • Winchendon School Fund Raiser information
and more! As always, thank you for your interest and support!

The Spanish American Center would like to thank Fallon Health for awarding us $2000 for our hunger relief programs! Pictured above : Kelly Kurtz, Occupational Therapist at the Leominster Summit ElderCare, Sharon Nolli, Senior Care Products Account Executive, Robert Toporoff, Contract Manager Fallon Health, and SAC's Neddy Latimer and Christina Gonzalez. The presentation took place at Kylee’s Kare Kits for Kidz. ¡Muchas Gracias!
Join Us!
As we gather in observance
of our mutual experiences
of the impact of
Hurricane Maria - 6 months out
Time: 11:30 am Please call 978-534-3145 for details
A message from our friends at The Winchendon School:

The Winchendon School to Host Community Fundraiser To Aid Victims of Hurricane Maria

By  Winchendon Admissions  | March 9, 2018 
The Winchendon School Service Learning group is hosting a fundraiser   “Yo Soy Boricua” Gala fundraiser  to raise money for victims of Hurricane Maria. This will be a formal event with food, music, dancing, and raffles.
Hurricane Maria was the worst natural disaster to hit Puerto Rico in 89 years, wiping out the entire electrical grid and 80% of the islands agricultural industry. It has been six months since the hurricane and families are still struggling to make basic ends meets especially water, electricity, food, and employment. To date, over 200,000 people are still without power and tens of thousands are without potable water .
 Our fundraiser aims to help families who are living both in Puerto Rico, as well as those who were evacuated here to Massachusetts.  
Many families were forced to make the difficult choice to leave their homes and move to the mainland of the United States to ensure safe living conditions for their children and families. To date, Massachusetts has welcomed over 2400 students from Puerto Rico who were displaced by the storm. In January, The Winchendon School welcomed two students from Puerto Rico, Khalyl Lopez Morales, and Bianca Ortiz. Khalyl has shared his story with our community of how he and his mother, grandmother and two dogs lost their entire home, suffered immense hardship including having to live in their car without electricity and running water. Hundreds of families have experienced similar struggles and need our support to rebuild their lives in Puerto Rico and right here in Massachusetts.
  • Tickets cost $10 for students and $20 for adults.
  • Special shirts are also on sale for $25 and will count as dress code for TWS student for the spring semester and Winch Green thereafter.
  • Students may charge tickets and shirt costs to their student accounts.
  • Checks can also be made out to The Winchendon School.
All proceeds will be donated to The Spanish American Center to support victims living here locally in Massachusetts, as well as those in Puerto Rico.
T he Spanish American Center extends its sincere thanks to the students and faculty of the Winchendon School for their incredible generosity! ¡Muchas Gracias!
New Arrivals Support Group To Begin at SAC
The Spanish American Center will shortly begin offering the community a support group for new arrivals. Focusing on those who have relocated here as a result of hurricane Maria, this group will offer participants mutual support, information and education about local resources. Groups will be facilitated by bilingual and bicultural professionals who will ultimately provide mentoring to staff at SAC, who will, in turn, continue the program for as long as needed. The group is open to adults, and child care will be provided.
For information about joining this group or to make a referral please contact Ms. Yemni Tahis Mendez at 978-534-3145 or via her e-mail here .
This program is made possible by a generous donation from both the Lin-Manuel Miranda Family Foundation and from a private donor. SAC thanks our dedicated grant writer, Susan O'Brien, who pursued and obtained the funds needed for this important project!
CMAA Increases our funding to assist with capacity building for our elder new arrivals!
The Central Massachusetts Agency on Aging has granted the Spanish American Center an additional $4,000 in funding so that we may better meet the needs of elders who are new arrivals from Puerto Rico. The supplemental funds will complement our existing resources used for our Elders United Program.
 Acompáñenos todos los miércoles del mes de abril, desde las 3:30 pm a 4:30 pm, para participar en clases para aprender como cocinar comidas saludables, dirigidas por María Rodríguez.  Para más información, llame al 978-345-3145.
Join us on consecutive Mondays in April from 3:30 to 4:30 pm for healthy cooking classes being taught by Maria Rodriguez. For more information call 978-534-3145
The " United Way Meal Tasting Even t" below is focusing on the choices offered to our local f ood pantry clients. At the sample food tasting clients will be able to try our pre-packaged meals which will be fully prepared (By cooks at the Spanish American Center's Kitchen). The event is FREE and is being held at Catholic Charities on Mechanic Street in Leominster. For more information please contact Gina Cudak at United Way of North Central MA at : 978-345-1577 or email at gina@uwncm.org . Bon Appetite!
Click the poster above for information on Dining for Hunger's next event!
Sponsored "Funny For Food" Event for Ginny's and Spanish American Center (Photo at Left)

On Sunday, March 25 our new friends at Dining For Hunger threw a comedy night to raise $$$ for BOTH Ginny's Food Pantry and SAC! The event featured three local comedians and brought together friends and neighbors to share laughs, snacks and drinks at The Monument Tap, and, in the process raised $1,200.00 for our local hunger relief programs. They are not done yet - they are planning another event - a "Dough-Raiser" at Pizzeria Uno.
We have some wonderful folks in our City!
¡Muchas Gracias!
Domestic Violence Prevention Program
by Nicolas Formaggia , Esq., Domestic Violence Supervisor at SAC

Demystifying the effectiveness of a restraining order.

Chapter 209A of the Massachusetts General Laws provides that a person may apply and obtain a protective order if he or she can show, that he or she is in need of protection from abuse. The statute broadly defines abuse as the “the occurrence of one or more … acts between family or household members [that include]
attempting to cause or causing physical harm; placing another in fear of imminent serious physical harm; or causing another to engage involuntarily in sexual relations by force, threat or duress”.
Generally, the protections afforded under G.L. 209A are limited to family or household members. In this context, those are persons who are or were married to one another;  are or were residing together in the same household; are or were related by blood or marriage; or by having a child in common regardless of whether they have ever married or lived together; or are or have been in a substantive dating or engagement relationship, in light of the length of time of the relationship; the type of relationship; the frequency of interaction between the parties; and if the relationship has been terminated by either person, the length of time elapsed since the termination of the relationship.
While at its inception a restraining order may not appear to be a strong deterrent, in part because it is the result of a civil action leading to a court order that has no more weight than the paper it is issued on, violation of the order becomes a criminal offense and carries serious consequences.
An applicant needs only to meet the same standard of proof applicable to most civil actions – preponderance of the evidence – that is “it is more likely than not that what you are saying is true.”
In these kind of proceedings, where usually all evidence is limited to the testimony of the parties, credibility is paramount. An applicant who is not credible will have a hard time obtaining an order, while a very credible applicant with the same set of facts is more likely to obtain it.
Once the Court finds that the applicant has shown that he or she meet the threshold, the Court will order the Defendant to do a number of things, which may include vacate the marital home, remain away from the applicant and his or her children, refrain from contacting the applicant by any means, pay support to the applicant, surrender his or her weapons, etc.
It is important to remember that a judge may order child support and spousal support with this order, and it is not necessary for the applicant to also initiate an action with the Probate and Family Court.
While the spirit of G.L. 209A is, whitout a doubt, to protect victims of abuse, the reality is that a protection order is not always the most effective tool, and only survivors of domestic violence, often supported by domestic violence advocates, are the ones capable of determining whether the perpetrator in this case would actually be deterred by the order, or he or she would completely disregard it and it would only act as a catalyst, triggering a dangerous escalation.
If, and when, a survivor obtains a protection order, it is really important that the community surrounding the survivor remain supportive.
This may take the form of an employer that increases facilities safety, or offers special accommodations such as time off allowances to attend court proceedings, or any other measure geared towards making it possible to continue a daily life with an extra layer of safety and support.
At home, neighbors are the perfect ally, remaining vigilant, ready to contact law enforcement.
In sum, while a survivor bears the burden of securing a protection order at the initial stage, it is important to understand that the survivor’s close community, and ultimately, even bystanders, play a significant role in ensuring that this order serves its purpose.

Eliminando los mitos de la efectividad de una orden de proteccion.

El capitulo 209ª de las leyes generales de Massachusetts provee que una persona puede solicitar, y recibir una orden de protección si puede mostrar que el o ella necesita protegerse de abuso. La ley define abuso, en forma amploa, como la ocurrencia de uno o mas actos – entre miembros de una familia o nucleo familiar [que incluyen] el intentar causar o causar daño físico, hacer que alguien tema sufrir inminentemente serio daño físico, o forzar a alguien a participar en relaciones sexuales, ya sea bajo amenazar o coaccion.
Generalmente, las protecciones ofrecidas por la ley 209ª están limitadas a la familia o miembros del nucleo familiar. En este contexto, esas son personas que están o han estado casadas, o están o han estado residiendo juntos en el mismo hogar, o esta o estuvieron relacionadas por sangre o matrimonio, o por tener un niño en común, mas alla de haber estado casados o haber vivido juntos; o están o han estado involucrados en una relación de noviazgo o como prometidos, a la luz de la duración de esa relación, el tipo de relación, la frecuencia con la que interactuaban, y si la relación ha sido terminada por una de las personas, el tiempo que ha transcurrido desde que al relación fue terminada.
Mientras que al momento de su incepción, una orden de protección puede no verse como un freno de cuantia, en parte porque es el resultado de una acción civil que conduce a obtener una sentencia de la corte, la que no tiene mas peso que el papel sobre el que sue emitida, pero cuya violación se convierte en una ofensa criminal y acarrea serias consecuencias .
Un solicitante solo necesita probar su caso al nivel de los casos civiles, eso es, preponderancia de la evidencia, o en otras palabras “es mas probable que lo que usted dice sea verdad.”
En este tipo de casos, donde la evidencia presentada generalmente esta limitada al testimonio de las personas, la credibilidad es un factor fundamental. Un solicitante que no tiene credibilidad tendrá dificultades para obtener una orden de protección, mientras que una persona con mayor credibilidad, en presencia de los mismos hechos, tiene más posibilidades de obtenerlas.
Una vez que la corte concluye que el o la solicitante ha mostrado que satisface los requerimientos de la ley, la corte puede ordenar que el acusado cumpla con un numero de requerimientos, tales como abandonar la casa de la familia, permanecer alejado de la solicitante y sus hijos, evitar contactar a la solicitante por ningún medio, pagar manutención, entregar las armas que poseyera a las autoridades, etc.
Es importante recordar que un juez puede ordenar que se pague manutención para los niños y el o la cónyuge, por lo que no es necesario que la solicitante inicie una acción en el tribunal de familia.
Mientras que el espíritu de la ley 209ª es, sin lugar a dudas, proteger a las víctimas de abuso, la realidad es que una orden de protección no siempre es la herramienta más efectiva, y solo los sobrevivientes, a menudo en colaboración con su consejero de violencia doméstica , son los que están en mejores condiciones de determinar si el abusador en este caso será desalentado por la existencia de la orden, o por el contrario, va a ignorar la orden, y esta solo sirve para desencadenar mas peligro.
Si, y cuando, un sobreviviente obtiene una orden de protección, es realmente importante que la comunidad que rodea al sobreviviente permanezca proveyendo apoyo. Ese apoyo se manifiesta de distintas formas. Un empleador puede mejorar las medidas de seguridad de sus instalaciones, o concede tiempo libre para poder concurrir a las audiencias, o toma cualquier otra medida diseñada para hacer posible que la vida diaria tenga una capa mas de protección y apoyo.
En la casa, los vecinos son los aliados perfectos, permaneciendo vigilantes, listos para contactar a las autoridades.
En suma, mientras que es la sobreviviente la que tiene la responsabilidad inicial de obtener una orden de protección en la etapa inicial, es importante entender que la comunidad que rodea a la sobreviviente tiene un rol fundamental, tal y como aquellos que son simples espectadores.

About the author: Nicolas Formaggia, Esq. received his JD from the Massachusetts School Of Law. He has also attended Fitchburg State University where he completed his undergraduate studies with a BA in Sociology. An employee of SAC for over ten years, Attorney Formaggia now supervises our Domestic Violence intervention program. He is an attorney in private practice and is an affiliated attorney with community legal assistance. He is currently on the Board of Directors at HealthAlliance Hospital. He is admitted to the Bar in Massachusetts and is a member of the Massachusetts Bar Association and The American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA).
SAC thanks Attorney Formaggia for his article in this month’s edition of El Amenecer .
For a full copy of this article click here to be directed to SAC's web site.
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The Spanish American Center, Inc.
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Calling All Worcester Parents!
The following are notices which may be of interest to our readers concerning a research project conducted by doctoral candidate, Marybeth Donlan , at Northeastern University. If you are interested in participating, or for more details, please click on the documents and you will be taken to her e-mail.