El Amanecer
The Official Newsletter of The Spanish American Center
November, 2020
News & Notes from Neddy
The early snowfall last week reminded us that we are facing a winter of challenges! We have been occupied with calls, emails, and zoom meetings of all kinds. There is a lot of change in our community for folks whose lives have been upended by this Pandemic - and we are relieved that our food programs and emergency assistance for rent and utilities have been helpful. Some days it is overwhelming, and some cases bring tears to our eyes. Moving forward, we will extend our popular Grab -n-Go meals well into 2021 in order to ease hunger in our community.
In other news:

  • We have done everything possible to fulfill requests, but we have recently exhausted funding from EFSP due to continued high demand for emergency help. Other funding such as Community Foundation of North Central Massachusetts has been exhausted as well, due to unprecedented requests for assistance. We are advocating for renewed funding to enable us to continue these vital services.

  • October was the month of our Hispanic Heritage; it’s a month in which we reflect and celebrate all the triumphs that Hispanics have accomplished over decades of hard work in the US. Though the Center didn’t do a specific activity this year due to COVID; we celebrated our Hispanic Heritage every day in our minds and hearts. Just by being part of it, living our culture, celebrating our holidays and religious beliefs, eating our food, listening to our music, and being part of other components that make our heritage. “Hispanic Heritage is drum, maracas, guiro. It is music that vibrates and has given us our rhythm. Hispanic Heritage is struggle, and pride in preserving what is ours, taking pride in the cultures left by our ancestors. It is a quilt of colors and cultures that form who we are. A people with roots, a rich history, and a promise for tomorrow.” Miggie Velez, SAC Board President

  • October was also Domestic Violence Awareness month. The Center celebrated by decorating outdoors with a banner and purple ribbons that signify victims or survivors of DV. We also had a walk through town to create awareness and in remembrance of all DV cases around the world. A big thank you to officer Julio Ramos from Leominster PD, for his escort during our DV walk.

  • As of October 16th we completed our involvement and partnership with the US. Census 2020. Sonia and Aurea were the coordinating partners for the Center’s 2020 Census’ outreach effort. It was a very well- coordinated successful effort in MA. Overall, MA had an increase of 50% registering the population compared to the 2010 Census. We closed the statewide partnership with congratulations and a well done job, zoom meeting on Friday the 23rd.  The MA Senators and legislators sent us a zoom shout out message to all involved.

  • Thanks to the volunteers from MWCC Nursing Department that came to the Center on Thursday 15th, another Day of Caring from Untied Way of NCM.

  • We also give a warm welcome to our new receptionist/data entry staff member, Ms. Kelimar Collazo.

  • We extend a welcome to our newest board member, Mr. Raymon Gonzalez of Athol.  A long time colleague and supporter of the Center, Mr. Gonzalez is employed as Senior Director for College Access at Mount Wachusett Community College.

  • We would like to encourage everyone to participate in our national elections of 2020 on November 3rd. It is such an important right; our vote needs to be counted. Democracy is at stake. Please vote!     

With warmest wishes for Thanksgiving,
Neddy Latimer, Executive Director
Update! Program Extended to June, 2021!
FOCUS On Safety
Domestic Violence Intervention Program
An Interview With Our Staff
October is national domestic violence awareness month. The following interview was conducted with the advocates at the Spanish American Center to provide the community with awareness of the problem of domestic violence and what the Center is doing to address it. 

 SAC provides for the safety of families caught up in the web of domestic violence through services such as the provision of referrals for emergency housing and /or shelter programs, crisis intervention, counseling and support, advocacy, and legal assistance contacts. We also promote public awareness through collaboration and education with cultural sensitivity.  We provide unique immigrant family outreach and follow up tracking as needed. What follows is a discussion obtained between the editor of this newsletter and the domestic violence advocates at the Spanish American center. 

How many dedicated DV staff are employed at the Spanish American center? How are their roles similar, different?
We have 3 Domestic Violence Counselors/Advocates and a Domestic Violence Outreach and Community Engagement Coordinator
The counselors/advocates work directly with victims, providing comprehensive services and counseling. On the other hand, our Domestic Violence Outreach and Community Engagement Coordinator role is to educate the community, participate in activities and events, connect with other agencies, give information about our program, etc.
What languages are spoken in the DV Unit? 
English and Spanish
What are your Hours/ Days Available?  Monday thru Friday 8:30 to 4:30
How are you trained? 
• Domestic Violence Awareness Training
• Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Advocacy Training
• Intimate Partner Abuse Education Program, Certification Training
• The Interrelationship Between Sexual/Domestic Violence and Substance Use Disorder
• Understanding, Assessing, Managing, and Preventing Suicidal Behavior
• Continuing Education
Are there any special qualifications for staff members in the domestic violence unit (bilingual or bi cultural staff)?
• Bi-lingual
• Bi-Cultural
• 25+ Domestic Violence Training
• Human Service
How many clients do you see in an average week?  15-20
What measures do you take to keep clients and staff safe? 
• Confidentiality
• We collect information about perpetrators, including physical details and behavioral risks
• We encourage clients to keep participation in our program as confidential as they can
• Protocol to call 911 in any situation that escalates and starts getting out of hand
Do you work with local courts, police, hospitals and government agencies?
Yes, we received referrals from and refer victims to these agencies. We also received referrals from friends, family members, and faith communities.
What are your three most common issues you see?
The most common issues we see are need of shelter, stabilized housing and immigration status needs.
What strengths are unique to your program at SAC? 
A unique strength that we have is our team effort; when we put our ideas together to get things done. We are very passionate about what we do. Our connection with other agencies to assist clients is a strength that makes us unique. And, also, another big strength is our counseling services. This has helped victims to break the cycle of domestic violence.
How do your clients contact you? 
By phone, email, or direct referrals.
Is there emergency back up?
In times of emergencies our team works together to provide the best assistance possible to our victims in connection with community resources.
Are clients charged for your services? Do you take health insurance?
Our services are free or charge and we do not take health insurance.
 What is the source of your funding for the domestic violence intervention program?
Department of Public Health, Massachusetts Office for Victim Assistance fund,
Do you accept donations?
Yes, donations are always welcome.
Does your department have a "wish list" and if so, what do you need?
Basic needs items for victims and their children.
Do you have recommendations for ongoing bilingual/cultural counseling support for clients? 
We refer them two community mental health programs where appropriate
Where are the Spanish-speaking therapists?
Community Health Connections, Dr. Bradley in Fitchburg
How has Covid-19 impacted you program and your ability to work with clients?
No meeting face to face, difficulties referring to agencies that are working remotely. Counseling on the phone is very difficult because the connection and body language are affected. When victims come to the center for their appointments, they have the opportunity to take a break for themselves and get away from their situations at home. Clients that are with the abusive partners do not have the freedom to speak with us over the phone.
What do you wish the community understood about the Domestic Violence problem?
Domestic Violence has no room in our society. SAC is here to help! Please, do not stay quiet!
How long does a case stay open (on average)?
As long as it takes, it depends on the client.
Do you provide follow up after a case is closed and how often?
We do follow up once or twice but we also have has the experience of clients calling to tell us information on their success progress, there new beginnings, and updates.
The editor wishes to thank the staff up the Domestic Violence intervention unit at the Spanish American Center for participating in this interview for the November issue. If anyone in the community needs assistance, please contact the Center at 978 534 3145. You can also reach the domestic violence program at info@spanishamericancenter.org, or through our website messaging system. All inquiries are maintained with strict confidentiality. 
DV Awareness Banner
Purple Vision For DV Prevention
SAC Staff DV Awareness Walk
WELCOME To Our New Receptionist
 Kelimar Collazo
Please join us in welcoming our newest full time employee, Ms. Kelimar Collazo. As receptionist at the Center, Kelimar will be assisting clients via telephone and at our front desk (in person only when our Covid-19 restrictions are lifted - now we remain closed to the public). Ms. Collazo will also be responsible for much-needed computer entry duties, ensuring accuracy for our statistical recording. Bi-lingual in both Spanish and English, she also has experience with public service:
"I’ve always enjoyed working with the community helping others and impacting their lives. Before coming to the Spanish American Center this month, I worked as a Community Based Day Staff. By staying knowledgeable on community resources, I helped disabled individuals achieve their goals and improve their quality of life. After that I became a transportation coordinator assisting individuals get the help they need to be able to send their children to daycare or school. During my free time I enjoy activities involving my daughter and family. " - October, 2020
The Spanish American Center Earns a “Give with Confidence” 100/100 Rating From Charity Navigator!
We’re excited to share some news! The Spanish American Center, Inc. has been evaluated by Charity Navigator through their revolutionary Encompass Rating System and received a 100 out of 100 rating!
The Encompass Rating System is a comprehensive evaluation tool that analyzes nonprofit performance based on four key indicators. In July 2020, Charity Navigator released the first indicator, Finance & Accountability, to highlight nonprofit organizations demonstrating fiscal responsibility.
This milestone achievement for The Spanish American Center, Inc. couldn’t have happened without you and your support. Thank you for being part of our family as contributors, funders, and volunteers. Your trust in us is what makes the difference to us and the individuals, families, and communities]we serve.
You can find our Charity Navigator Encompass rating by clicking here and learn more about Charity Navigator and the Encompass Rating System at: charitynavigator.org/encompass.
Thank you for being an integral part of our mission!
Remember to always start at smile.amazon.com to support us at
the Spanish American Center every time you shop.
Select Spanish American Center as your designated charity when you shop on AMAZON Smile this Holiday season!
Thanksgiving Appeal
It has been a difficult year. If you can spare a donation for some THANKSGIVING items for our meal programs & Food Pantry you would provide comfort to families in need!
UPDATE! FREE Covid-19 Testing
This Week in Leominster - Nov 4 & 5, 10am - 4pm
At Doyle Field:
The Spanish American Center's Board of Directors Is happy to announce that a unanimous vote taken during the October meeting resulted in immediate approval of Mr. Ramon Gonzalez as our newest member.
A long time colleague and supporter of the Center, Mr. Gonzalez is employed as Senior Director for College Access at Mount Wachusett Community College, He has over 15 years of experience working in college access. He currently oversees the Educational Talent Search program, North Central MA Talent Search, GEAR UP & Upward Bound Math Science at Mount Wachusett Community College in the Division of Access & Transition. Previously, he worked for GEAR UP at MASS EDCO, overseeing the Worcester area for the State Wide GEAR UP. From 2004-2006 he was the Academic Counselor for the Salem State Upward Bound Program. From 2002-2008 he was a Dorm Supervisor at Shriver Job Corps. He has served on the Massachusetts State association for TRIO Programs (MEOA) as Membership Chair and as State President. Most recently he was the President of the New England Educational Opportunity Association (NEOA). He has also served as the Membership Chair for a number of years before stepping up and Co-Chairing the 2016 Conference as Vice President and is the Development Chair for the organization. Mr. Gonzalez is an alumnus of the Student Support Services Program at Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts where he earned his BA in English Communications. He also holds an MS in Applied Communications from Fitchburg State University.
Per SAC Board President, Ms. Migdalia Velez, "We thank Mr. Gonzalez for his interest in our mission and look forward to his active involvement with the Center in the future!"

SAC Is Recipient of DIY
RevvedUP Dinner Kits Program
From UWNCM Combat Hunger Program!
"In our region, an average of 1 in 11 individuals and 1 in 9 children are food insecure, meaning thousands of people do not know where there next meals will come from.
The United Way of North Central Massachusetts works to eliminate food insecurity in North Central Massachusetts through the Combat Hunger meal packaging program. The packaging events provide nutritious meals for individuals and families in need. Since 2013, community and corporate volunteers, and sponsors, have packaged over 1 million meals that have been donated to area shelters, food pantries and agencies, schools and housing authorities.
The program has always sought to provide healthy, easy-to-cook meals that can feed whole families. It also recently expanded by debuting the new Combat Hunger RevvedUP dinner kits, which provide nonperishable goods and spices to enhance the meals. The kit contents are based on local ethnic food preferences and are customized per agency requests. The RevvedUP kits also include nutritional education as well as information about SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) and HIP (Healthy Incentives Program)." - UWNCM
With the advent of the new DIY volunteer program these enhanced meal packets are assembled by volunteers in their own homes. Ingredients and instructions are picked up at UWNCM, packaged for individual/family use and then delivered to the designated agency!
The DIYCombat Hunger RevvedUp will be open for online registration at the United Way Volunteer Center website by the end of October If you are interested in being a volunteer - contact Fran Longton, Volunteer Center Manager of UWNCM or click HERE for more details.

As always we thank the folks at UWNCM for partnering with the Spanish American Center in our quest to eliminate hunger!