LYNN — Latina Center MARIA has one mission — to empower women.
The Lynn non-profit, established in 2016, empowers Latinas with little or no English through a variety of educational programs, according to founder and Executive Director Magalie Torres-Rowe. The center MARIA, which stands for Madre, Autentica, Restaurada, Inteligente, Amorosa, is also an emotional and spiritual support group where immigrant women share their stories with each other.
“We have different workshops on the first Saturday of every month where we talk about different issues for women, and it’s mostly Hispanic women,” said Tomasa Pujol, the center’s president. “Like how you can overcome your fears and the things that prevent you from growing your life, your job, or your business.”
On May 10, at 7 p.m. at Spinelli’s, Latina Center MARIA will host its gala for the Inspirational Woman and Mother 2019 scholarship awards. Torres-Rowe said they will hand out $500 to four Latina mothers, with no or limited English, to help further their education. The money raised during this year’s gala will go toward funding the volunteer-based programs and scholarships for next year’s winners.
Pujol said most of the center’s members are mothers trying to learn English to help navigate their lives in a country that relies so heavily on it. The center partnered with New Lynn Coalition so its members can take English classes at a discounted rate.
“If we empower moms, we empower the families in the community,” said Torres-Rowe. “When Mom is happy, everyone at home is happy. “
MARIA offers support, advice and training to Latinas and their families through three institutions: Women’s Leadership Institute; Professional Skills, Entrepreneurship, Civic Participation Institute; and Directory of Institutions for family welfare (health, jobs, housing).
The institutions have a variety of programs such as human development training, English as a second language courses and citizenship courses, most common diseases awareness courses, and support groups for women in domestic violence situations or women battling depression.
“This program makes a difference in these women’s lives,” Pujol said.