When two DVCC staff members held an information session on EsperanzaCT at a national conference last month, they were surprised to learn that no other provider of domestic violence services to the Latina community has anything like our comprehensive Spanish language website and 24/7 phone service line.
"We are unique in this country," said DVCC Counselor Advocate Doris Urteaga, who presented to 150 attendees at the 2014 National Latin@ Institute, held June 9th - 11th in Chicago. Urteaga was asked to speak at the conference after submitting a proposal, her resume and details of her long-time experience working with those impacted by domestic violence in the Latino community. Jackeline Lopez, DVCC's Coordinator of EsperanzaCT and Advocacy Projects, co-presented the workshop, titled "Providing Services Online to Latin@ Survivors".
Impressed with the presentation and with the scope of EsperanzaCT, conference leaders have asked Urteaga and Lopez to repeat their performance in an upcoming webinar so that the information will be widely available to organizations and individuals across the country.
Over the course of the three-day gathering, Urteaga and Lopez also discovered that DVCC provides many more services for clients and benefits from much stronger partnerships and community support than the other organizations represented at the conference.
"Some of the programs provide shelter and counseling, some provide legal assistance and counseling, but no one had the full range of comprehensive services DVCC offers, no one had the kind of partnerships we have with the police and the courts, no one offered civil legal clinics or safety for victims' pets," said Lopez.
That's not to say, however, that our two staff members didn't come away with new information and knowledge. Urteaga learned a lot from a workshop on the LGBTQ Latin@ community, and she suggested that DVCC needs to do more outreach in that area. Lopez learned more about the Bandana Project that supports immigrant farm laborers, who are often victims of rape and sexual assault while working in the fields. And both joined other conference attendees in creating bandanas that will raise awareness and funds for the project.
Our staff was also impressed with the self-help room at the conference and the self-care exercises at the end of each day that encouraged attendees dealing with heavy-duty topics and workshops to spend some time relaxing, de-stressing and taking care of themselves - all of which probably came in very handy on the last day, when Lopez and Urteaga arrived at the airport to discover their plane had been cancelled and they opted to spend the night in plastic airport chairs so as to be ready to catch the first available flight the next day!
The biannual National Latin@ Institute is organized by the National Latin@ Network for Healthy Families and Communities. This network of individuals and organizations committed to improving the health and well-being of Latin@ communities is led by Casa de Esperanza, a national organization whose mission is to mobilize Latinas and Latin@ communities to end domestic violence.