Happy 50th anniversary to the Spanish-American Center
Fifty years is a long time. Especially for an organization helping people every single day. Aug. 5 is the Spanish-American Center’s annual block party, and as usual it promises to be a whole lot of fun with entertainment and plenty of food and activities. The center was started 50 years ago by Catholic clergy as a way to reach out to the needs of the Spanish community. I’m sure those founding members probably couldn’t imagine what the center would bring to the East Side, the city, and all its residents — not just Spanish-speaking.
If you haven’t been to the Spanish-American Center at 112 Spruce St., you should stop by. A home converted to office space, a community center and kitchen, the center serves Leominster’s 15,000 Spanish residents with every possible activity and meets every need. Programs include an information and referral service, ESL and civic classes, peer leadership training, a food program through the homeless and community food pantry, a legal clinic, elderly outreach through their Senior Advocate Program, battered women and children counseling and homelessness referral. And that’s just at the center!
Neddy Latimer, one of the nicest people I have ever met, not only has kind words and a smile for everyone but is a tremendous leader — always with her ear to the ground to find out gaps in services or individual needs in the community. Neddy and her staff have brought the center to new heights through expanding the children’s breakfast and lunch program to offsite locations in Leominster, Fitchburg and Gardner. The center is so active in the community, participating in our strolls, spring clean up, and partnering with organizations like Riverside Village where they provided catering for the complex’s 55th anniversary just a few months ago. And always looking toward the bigger picture, trips to the State House and calls to legislators are just another way the Spanish-American Center serves as an incredible advocate for our community.
The Spanish-American Center is currently undertaking a strategic plan to meet the needs of future generations and ensure that the center remains strong. I have no doubt that with the leadership and energy of everyone at the center, Leominster will continue to have a tremendous partner for years to come.
To Neddy, Micky and the staff at the center, thank you for being unwavering advocates for not just those in our Spanish-speaking community, but for all our residents. Your celebration of diversity and work toward addressing challenges from the smallest to the largest has made Leominster a better place. Congratulations on 50 years!
There’s still lots going on in Leominster during the summer months. The Farmer’s Market takes place from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on the Common every Saturday. The Colonial Band concert series started this Tuesday at Carter Park at 7:30. Thursdays is the weekly band concert at 7 p.m., also at Carter Park, Movie in the Park is coming up at Barrett Park on the 14th at 7:30 p.m., the Johnny Appleseed Craft Beer Fest is back by popular demand downtown on the Common on Aug. 5 from 4-8 p.m., Ladies Night Out is Aug. 10, and don’t forget the Fox 25 Zip Trip coming to Sholan on Aug. 11. Get some sleep and show up at 5 a.m. to get the place hopping! – Editorial in The Leominster Champion by Leominster Mayor Dean Mazzarella, 7/14/17
Join us at our newest Community Breakfast Cafe – Mondays, from 8 – 10 at New Life Spanish Christian Church 63 Fairmount Street, Fitchburg.
The Center was also recently awarded a $5,000 grant from the George Wallace Foundation in order to further support their programs for feeding hungry and isolated people in the Leominster area. Money from this grant will be used to underwrite the costs of the center’s Breakfast Cafe and evening soup kitchen as well as other existing partnerships with the New Life Spanish Christian Church.
Next board meeting:
Thursday, 2/8/18 at SAC at 6:30 pm