A new women’s group seeks to engage, connect, empower and develop the emotional wellness of Latino women within our community. Fuerza Latina, established through Douglas County Social Services, is designed to bridge the gap between Latino residents and community connections and engagement. The group has grown to over 30 women in two months.
Neyzer Torres, Bilingual Coordinator for the Partnership of Community Resources, facilitates Fuerza Latina and leads the women in working together to select activities for the group to participate in together. By doing so, she explains that it creates an environment by which they are empowered and their voices valued; in turn, the women take ownership of the group’s mission to grow individually, as a group and as active members of the Douglas County community. Having moved to the area from Colombia, South America in 1994 without speaking English, Neyzer relates well to the challenges that the women in her group face every day.
“Isolation is one of the biggest things,” Neyzer describes, “you get used to the people you meet every day and [in Latin countries] people are always outside. Here in Douglas, it’s a small town and you don’t see a lot of people outside their houses. If you don’t have an American family here, it’s harder to make connections.”
While it’s clear that speaking English, and speaking it well, is a continuing barrier in communication and connection, resources are available to learn English and many women in the group have taken courses. Moreover, Neyzer expands on how disconnect from community engagement have suppressed exceptional leadership skills she sees in each woman. She hopes that Fuerza Latina will encourage each of their individual talents to transpire. “The group is still very new. We still have to see what direction it will go.”
Fuerza Latina will be giving back to the community by helping prepare the Heritage Park Gardens this month for upcoming community use.