Dear Council Supporter,

As the only agency advocating for Hispanics in Kalamazoo and Southwest Michigan, we have been referring and providing services to this community for over 30 years. To build the capacity for self-sustainment, the Council acts as a Hispanic Liaison for those in our community unable to navigate through the maze of human services. Members of the Hispanic community come to the Council needing to be heard by someone ready to listen. As an identifiably safe environment for the Hispanic community, the Council provides a channel to specific and sensitive needs of Hispanic individuals. We would like you to include, as a part of our Kalamazoo community, to be familiar with what the Council does and the lives we have change, so we introduce you to Norma.

For years, Norma worked in an environment so thick with fear it nearly smothered her. A native of Mexico, Norma was employed at a local greenhouse, where she performed all matter of jobs. She worked hard to provide for her and her children. But she was undocumented, a hard fact of life that hung over her like a cloud of constant anxiety.

But things were to get worse. For years she suffered through constant sexual harassment at her workplace, but never uttered a word of her suffering. She kept her head down, did her job and dealt with the pain she would feel from those who made the advances.

Then, in the spring of 2010, the harassment came to her own home. A manager at the greenhouse came over, exposed himself and assaulted Norma in her kitchen. When he left, he told her not to bother contacting the police. “They won’t believe you because you are undocumented,” he said. “They’ll deport you.” But Norma had had enough. She didn’t care. After years of abuse, anxiety and depression, she wanted justice.

With the possibility of deportation swirling in her head, she got in touch with the authorities and filed a police report about what had happened at her home. Unable to speak much English, she was confused about what to do next. She had nowhere else to turn. But she had the Hispanic American Council.

She contacted HAC, and staff got her in touch with an attorney, translated for her in interviews with police and gave her the support she desperately needed. Charges were eventually brought against her assailant, and after Norma gave brave, but heartbreaking testimony in court about what she had lived and suffered through, he was convicted of 4th degree criminal sexual conduct.

It was a stunning victory, given her status and the circumstances of the case. But Norma got her justice, and now she’s gotten more than that. She is taking English classes and was given a 5-year permanent resident status by the federal government, after which she can apply for United States citizenship.

After living in darkness for years, the sun is finally shining on her and her children’s lives. Now that the shroud of turmoil she was covered with has been lifted, she is happy. Finally, life is good. But without the help of HAC, Norma’s new life might not have been possible.

Norma is one of many that have found a sense of security in the Hispanic American Council. Our constant dedication to support and promote the meaningful participants of Hispanics in Southwest Michigan has gained the loyalty of the population we serve to continue in seeking services and connection to resources through the Council. As the largest growing minority today, the Council does not view closing our doors or continuing with survivalist funding as an acceptable to meet the needs of the Hispanic community. So we invite you to be a continuing part of the Council helping people like Norma by giving a generous and tax-deductible contribution of $50, $75, $100, or $500 today. Envision how your contribution helps create a brighter tomorrow for someone like Norma.