Organization’s history, including development and accomplishments:
We started serving the community in January 2015, in a space provided by Little Village Community Church.
Although, our organization does not belong to this church, Pastor Victor Rodriguez supported our vision due to the great need in the Latino community for services of this kind in Spanish and English.
Counseling and support groups took place in the church’s conference room, when it was available. With donations and volunteer support, we grew and through social media and word of mouth, our programs became known.
We adapted an area within the same church that was used as storage in order to expand.
The Executive Director was counseling women and men, helping them to file orders of protection, and referring them to legal and medical services that they needed but could not afford. She also developed partnerships with other agencies and individuals that could provide information, resources and/or workshops during support groups that were held one and then two days a week. Two volunteers helped a few hours every week. Years later, we have been recognized across the Chicagoland area for our work and we have a wide range of partners collaborating on projects that focus on improving our Latino community.
We are still using the facilities at Little Village Community Church but, with a donation from Home Depot, we have installed laminated flooring, and furnished the space with other donations.
In addition to our efforts to assist survivors of domestic violence, we have also been working with a group of local organizations to develop a community market in Little Village. This market opened this summer, following CDC recommendations to prevent the spread of COVID-19. We obtained a space, the permits and the materials needed for the market, and are coordinating the logistics of its operation. Through social media, we promote the market days so that local gardeners, farmers and vendors only need to bring their products and follow the CDC recommendations.
This market increases access to healthy food in Little Village and creates space for local farmers and vendors to sell and build their network.
Maria Ruiz is our Executive Director and founder, her passion for helping people experiencing violence stems from experiencing and surviving a violent relationship herself. Today, with more than 30 years of experience, with impact and influence on the lives of thousands of people, Maria press on towards the goals and challenges that life presents, with the confidence of knowing that she is making a difference in the life of thousands of people and working towards the creation of a community free of violence, with healthy empowered and strengthened families