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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 22, 2006

First Lady Patti Blagojevich celebrates opening of new community center in Pilsen committed to women and children in Chicago’s Latino community
New headquarters will allow Mujeres Latinas en Accion to expand its work to help women and their families become independent

CHICAGO – First Lady Patti Blagojevich today joined U.S. Senator Richard Durbin and Mujeres Latinas en Accion board members to cut the ribbon for Mujeres Latinas en Accion’s new Community Center, a building that will help the organization expand its work helping Latino women, their families and children become self-reliant and improve the quality of their lives.
 
“Mujeres Latinas en Accion has spent over 30 years seeking to empower Latino women to become independent, and create and take advantage of new opportunities to improve the quality of their lives,” said Mrs. Blagojevich. “Mujeres has worked very hard to help protect women from domestic and sexual violence and give them a place where they can feel safe. This new Community Center will be a beacon for all those who believe in strengthening families and communities. It’s an honor to be part of a ceremony that will allow Mujeres to help even more women in Chicago’s Latino community.”
 
Located at 2124 W. 21st Place in Pilsen, one of Chicago’s main Latino hubs, the new 14,000 square foot facility will be a gathering place and resource center for women and children in Pilsen and neighboring communities.  The building was funded with $1.6 million from private funders and additional support from the State of Illinois.
 
At their new facility, Mujeres will be able to expand some of its trademark programs, including among others:
 
  • A domestic violence program offering crisis assessment and intervention, education on the Illinois Domestic Violence Act (IDVA) and Violence Against Women (VAWA), a 24-hour hotline, individual and group counseling, community education, civil and criminal court advocacy, volunteer opportunities and referrals.
 
  • A crisis assessment and intervention program for victims of sexual assault, including education about victims’ rights, individual and group counseling, community education, professional training, criminal court advocacy, and referrals.
 
  • A two-phased Latina Leadership program providing assessment and referrals, courses, retreats and other leadership and skills building strategies to help Latino women assume leadership positions at local schools, churches and community organizations.
 
  • A Youth Project geared at Latina teenagers, providing structured activities emphasizing academic guidance and positive life choices, supportive counseling, recreational activities and even computer classes.
 
“We are proud to have Illinois’ First Lady Patti Blagojevich a part of such a momentous occasion for Mujeres Latinas en Accion, as Governor Blagojevich and his administration have been extremely supportive of our efforts,” said Susana Gonzalez, Mujeres Latinas en Accion’s Chair of the Board of Directors.  “The grand opening of our new building means much more than a new facility -- it translates into the ability to empower and transform the lives of even more Latinas and their families with much needed support services.”
 
Founded in 1973, Mujeres Latinas en Accion is one of the longest standing not for profit organizations in the nation working on women’s rights and women’s empowerment issues. The organization is a bilingual and bicultural agency seeking to empower women, their families and youth to become self-reliant and able to take full advantage of available opportunities, and create new opportunities to improve the quality of their lives.
 
A partner in the State of Illinois’ New Americans Initiative, Mujeres Latinas en Accion was a key actor in the legislative hearings that were pivotal in the passing of the New Americans bill. Mujeres Latinas en Accion continues their hard work on this issue by working with the State, the Instituto del Progreso Latino and the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights in the recruitment of eligible permanent residents and helping them with their application process, as well as constantly taking part in naturalization workshops held around Chicago.
 
Since the beginning of Governor Rod R. Blagojevich’s Administrations, Mrs. Blagojevich has been a key advocate for the women and children of Illinois. 
 
Earlier this year, Mrs. Blagojevich helped unveil Ticket for the Cure, the first lottery ticket ever created to help fund breast cancer early detection, education, research, and patient services throughout the state. Last October, the First Lady kicked off the Breast Cancer Awareness month by launching the “Pink Potluck Initiative,” which encourages First Ladies of African-American churches to host Pink Potlucks - social events that promote women’s health awareness. 
 
Mrs. Blagojevich has also advocated for Healthy Families Illinois, a program that helps prevent child abuse by supporting high-risk parents.  In addition, she has promoted the Prevention Development Resource Project, a partnership between DCFS and Prevent Child Abuse Illinois, and the Governor’s landmark All Kids plan, which makes Illinois the only state in the nation to provide affordable, comprehensive health insurance for every uninsured child in the state. 


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