Lillian Orsini, Columnist

Our Writers & Contributors

OUR WORLD NOW

Brief Bio: Graduated of UB, co-founder & first president,  Hispanic Women’s League
 Ms. Lillian G. Orsini was born in Ponce, Puerto Rico and raised in NYC. She is the oldest of 4 children and born to a teen age mom. Ms. Orsini has tirelessly invested over 3 decades of leadership in Western New York. In the early 1980s in Buffalo, she co-founded and was the first president of the Hispanic Women’s League, which still stands today for over 40 years.
 She graduated on a scholarship from the University of Buffalo with a major in Psychology/Public Administration.  In 2005, she and her husband opened S.A.F.E. Center in North Miami which was a place of safety for young girls. In 2006, she went to London, England where she was trained and certified in Solution Focus as a Trainer/ Therapist. In 2007, soon after graduating with her M.S. with high honor, she elected to go to Central America where she was instrumental in establishing a shelter for minor girls who are and were physically and sexually abused. Ms. Lillian G. Orsini was born in Ponce, Puerto Rico and raised in NYC.  She is the oldest of four to a teen – age mom.

Orsini LillyHat

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   MAKING HERSTORY: PUERTO RICAN WOMEN IN THE MILITARY

April 2021

(Read story with photos: April 2021 Issue)

We cannot forget HERSTORY. I was inspired to write about our Puerto Rican Women in the military because too much attention is paid to our Puerto Rican men that served, but not our brave Puerto Rican women. This is a beginning.
Olga Custodio: Born 1954, in Puerto Rico, was the First Latina U.S. Military Pilot. She tried to join the Reserve Officer Training Corps program but was turned down because she was a woman. According to Olga Custodio, when the recruiter asked her to list three jobs she wanted, she responded “A pilot, a pilot or a pilot.”
Hila Levy: US Air Force Captain: Born 1986, raised in Guaynabo, Puerto Rico. Levy earned Bachelor of Science degree in 2008 in biology with 3 foreign language, minors: Arabic, French and Spanish. She is an intelligence officer in the United States Air Force; first Puerto Rican to be awarded a Rhodes Scholarship.
Colonel Maritza Sáenz Ryan (U.S. Army):  Head of the Department of Law  at the United States Military Academy; born in 1960.  She also has the distinction of being the most senior-ranking Judge Advocate. She graduated from West Point in 1982 as the first Latin West Point graduate. and was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the Field Artillery.
Colonel Maria Zumwalt: Originally from Bayamon, Puerto Rico, joined the University of Puerto Rico ROTC program to earn some money for college. After participating in military training, Zumwalt grew to appreciate and take advantage of the opportunities offered.
Colonel Marta Carcana: Born in 1958, Bayamon, Puerto Rico. On September 4, 2015, she was confirmed as the first Puerto Rican woman to lead the Puerto Rican National Guard and be promoted to Major General.
Zoppi (Irene Miller Rodriguez): On 2018, she became the first Puerto Rican woman with rank of United States Army, Brigadier General. She was born and raised in Canovanas, Puerto Rico. Deployed to Kuwait, Iraq, and Saudi Arabia as a Military Intelligence Officer.
Hilda I. Ortiz Clayton Spec: Born on May 21, 1991 in Augusta, Georgia; an Army combat photographer was killed in 2013. She captured the explosion that killed her and four Afghan soldiers.
SPC Lizbeth Robles: Born 1973 in Vega Baja, Puerto Rico. She was the first female soldier to die in the War on Terrorism. She was serving in Operation Iraqi Freedom when she killed on March 1, 2005.
 Captain Haydee Javier Kimmich (U.S. Navy): In 1998 she was the highest-ranking Latin female in the Navy and Woman of the Year in Puerto Rico. Captain Haydee Javier-Kimmich was also Chief of Orthopedics at Bethesda Naval Hospital. She is originally from Puerto Rico.

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THE EYES OF MARCH, FROM THE LATINA KIND

   MAKING HERSTORY

March 2021

 In 1980, President Jimmy Carter issued the first presidential proclamation declaring the month of March 8th as National Women’s History Week.  1987, Congress passed Public Law 100-9 designating March as “Women’s History Month.” Since 1995, each president has issued an annual proclamation making March as “Women’s History Month”.

In 1979, the Hispanic Women’s league also took its place in “Herstory”, established as the first official Latin women’s organization created in Buffalo, N.Y.  and still exist today after over 40 years.

The organization started as a reaction to an article in one of Buffalo’s local newspapers, which wrote that there were no “Latino professionals in Buffalo, NY.” This falsehood crystalized how the Latin population was viewed by the larger Buffalo community. The rest was Herstory! It was the Latin women of Buffalo who took the reins on this matter and held meetings for months deciding on how to respond to this outrageousness.

At the time, no other organization in Buffalo or Western New York had a strong reaction to this discrediting, belittling, and irresponsible journalism. It took this article in 1979 to make the professional women of Buffalo fed up with the sexism, belittlement and constant ridicule of their contribution to “herstory.”  This ignorance also comes from Latin people refusing to be identified as Latin, ashamed of their culture, they allow themselves to go along and be defined by the status quo.

Like all injustices in society, change was not easy. With several professional women relocating to other areas of the state, it was time for Buffalo’s Latin women, especially those with strong leadership skills, and who would not sell out to the “status quo” to speak out on behalf of their Latin community. In September 1979, the formation of the Hispanic Women’s League became official. The first officers were unanimously elected:

Lillian G. Orsini, first president, Carmen Del Valle, vice president, Sarah Norat, treasurer, and Maria Rosa, secretary. That day “Herstory” was made in Buffalo. They came from all walks of life but not one hesitated to carry this torch.

While these officers were the leaders, it was a reflection of the many who counted on them. There are many who ask what has the Latin population contributed to society as well as younger women questioning what the women’s league has done: we proudly stood up while many others stayed seated, we courageously faced the unknown social consequences, and marked a place and time in a hostile society that can never be erased.

It took an United States president in 1980, to publicly acknowledge women’s social contribution, the Hispanic Women’s League started in 1979, in Buffalo. While the legacy belongs to a few, its continuation belongs to many.

May we in the local Puerto Rican /Latin community recognize and acknowledge the past and present contributions of the Hispanic Women’s League and what is to come in the coming years.

Enjoy the month of March!

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In 2007, she travelled to Central America where she was instrumental in establishing a shelter for minor girls who are and were physically and sexually abused.

A Matter of Health Issues: AVAILABLE FOR SPEAKING  ENGAGEMENTS

 February 2021 Issue

Ms. Orsini has tirelessly invested over 3 decades of leadership experience in Western New York.  In the late 1970’s she was Director of a Counseling Center in Buffalo. Early 1980s in Buffalo, she was the first president and co-founded of the Hispanic Women’s League, which still stands after over 40 years.  In 1985, she coordinated the first 5-10 hour day fund raiser for the youth of Buffalo. This was closely followed by being Director of Hispanics United of Buffalo, in 1987. During the 1990’s she was a Private Investigator as well as a Bail Investigator.
 In 1992, she earned a full 4 -year scholarship, B.A., in Psychology from University of Buffalo. In 2007, she obtained a M.S. with honors. This learning process took her to London, England where she was trained and certified in Solution Focus as Trainer/Mediator.
 In the same year, 2007, she elected to go to Central America where she was instrumental in establishing a shelter for minor girls who are and were physically and sexually abused. In 2010, she returned to the states and it brought her to Tallahassee, Florida.  She was hired by the Florida Department of Health and regularly volunteered to handle hotlines whenever there was a statewide medical emergency.
 Besides traveling throughout the state to provide training and promotion of safe practices on communicable diseases throughout the state, she was heavily involved in addressing the marginalized Latino population.
 Despite medical challenges, in May 2014, she coordinated the First “Tallahassee National Women’s Health Fair.”
 In 2017, family issues brought her to southern Florida. March 2017, she pursued training in Trauma Incident Reductions.
 Ms. Orsini is often invited to lecture or speak at events, serving as a keynote speaker in recent past events. 
 Besides various community engagements in New York and Florida, she manages her own health business, Lilly’s D’lites Spa Gifts, which addresses skincare, specializing in product treatment for cancer survivors.
 Specialty: Well versed in Women issues, health and mental health issues, Latino history, being Puerto Rican, Human Trafficking, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Cancer, and the legal system.

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THE VALUE OF MEMORIES

January 2021 Issue

As the new year approaches, I wonder what it will have in store for me. Will it be Corona to leave so I could hug my friends again? Will I embrace my retirement more or simply continue?  One thing is for sure, I will make the memory last. Lately, I have been pondering what is most important to me…
At the top of the list is my grandchildren along with all other young adults who I am fortunate to share time with. They are followed by passionate people who dedicate their lives to always helping others.
As I think back on my life, the most precious thing is when great memories were made. I remember my 6-grade teacher, Mr. Krug crying from President Kennedy’s assassination. She always encouraging me to speak English because I had important things to contribute and say in both languages.
In junior high school, I remember Ms. Rosenbaum, who argued with the shop teacher why I should be the valedictorian  since I was president of the student government. The shop teacher’s point was that I had an accent, but Ms. Rosenbaum’s point was that I was able to make the presentation in both languages (English & Spanish), which I did. It helped tilted the vote that the principal, Mrs. Gaines, was instrumental in my running for student president. I often visited her office to strongly suggest overall improvements for our school.
In high school, the school counselor, Mrs. Ruth Leardi, made sure we were well prepared for college. She was very committed to the educational success of all students interested in going to college. I never knew there were so many colleges in New York City, but she reminded me that it was all my choice; not that there would be a financial or linguistic barrier.
In addition to pushing education, she also made sure her students were cultured. We went to Lincoln Center, Museum of Natural History, the Opera House, the Village for Art, and many of the Broadway plays. It all created memories I would not have had, if not for her.
Fast forward, I not only finished college but I obtained a full four-year scholarship. I not only learned English, but learned French, Italian, and Portuguese. I still have an accent but have made many important presentations, regardless.
It is these memories that have shaped me over time, and I am fortunate to have had many people in my life responsible for my advancement. With this new year (2021), it is memories I intend to share with others — to deepen compassion, wisdom, and courage to enhance their lives, and in so doing, I  also  enhance mine.
It is people like these you do not forget, people that have opened doors for so many, including me. I will never forget how I felt being the valedictorian for my school’s graduation and looking straight at my grandmother’s beaming face as she was the first one to stand up and clap for me. How I still remember…
So, go and create lasting memories….

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CHRISTMAS 2006:

AN ACT OF KINDNESS

December 2020 Issue
S.A.F.E. center was a place where young girls could come for psychological help without red tape following them. Requirements were that they sign a contract addressing their individual issues and take charge of a theme and salesmanship at scheduled fund-raising events. In less than 6 months we had over a dozen girls.  We were preparing for a Christmas presentation and the young lady next to me was exhausted from all her work. She was to take the lead and we were all overly excited for her breakthrough. On the way to her home, she fell asleep.
Out of the corner of my left eye, I could see the black SUV charging towards us and I had to make a quick decision to speed up or slow down to minimize the hit that was inevitably coming. I decided to slow down. BANG!!!  I spin around and around several times and even hit another car. Throughout the spins I had my cell phone  clutched in my fist  trying to reach David.
My head hit a few times. I no longer heard or saw what was going on, but I briefly recalled his hand reach for my phone. The young man spoke softly, and I thought he was an Angel. He stopped a passing motorist who happened to be a cop and between them both, carefully dragged us away from the car.
We were both unconscious leaning against the tree. Little did they know, they would be shielding us from a huge car explosion. Within minutes people were arriving and throughout it all, this young man never let go of my hand.
Months later when I was somewhat healed, I was determined to find him and invite him as an honored guest at our Christmas event. I found his given address on the police report. I found his uncle and shared how this young man had saved my life. They were surprised because he had been sad thinking I had died.
The celebration had started and had almost ended when a deafening silence took over the room. I slowly turned around and there in all his valor was the Angel who put his life on the line for us. The young man who still bears scars on his back that he rarely talked about.
Once we got pass the flowing tears, and warm embraces, we found out his family lived in Manhattan, less than five (5) blocks from my hometown and the mothers knew each other.  That Christmas, his act of kindness gave me back my life.

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A MONTH TO GIVE THANKS

November 2020 Issue

It is November 2020, the month to give thanks, especially during these times. For many it is a major struggle to maintain a decent quality of life. The reality is, some are painfully fighting for their lives while our heroic caregivers jeopardize theirs.   Below are some empowering suggestions that we can do for ourselves as well for others. First and foremost, take care of your health and maintain your physical strength.
Wear a mask at all functions.  Maintain physical distance of at less 6 feet.  Sanitize most things that you touch.  Drink lots of water.  Ride a bike.
This is to be followed by focusing on your mental wellbeing using common sense:
 Meditate, pray, chant, listen to music, cut down on conflicts (especially with those you live with). Paint, sew, write. Remember all the happy moments… and dance some SALSA.
How do we do this:
  1. Attempt to simplify your life especially with less stress.
  2. Even though matters are challenging, we all have a purpose, keep that in mind.
  3. Read books, magazines, find ways to improve yourself.
  4. Count your blessings (at least 100) and accumulate good fortune for your life.
  5. Stay in the powerful present. The past is gone, and we do not know about tomorrow.
  6. Find some good in everything and everyone, especially family and friends. Even our foes bring us lessons to learn and thereby making us stronger, even more than them.
  7. Extend your hand to those less fortunate, someone, some place is doing worse than you.
  8. The hardest lesson of all is to focus on the beauty and benefit of simply living a life.
In case you may need additional assistance to reach these efforts, below are some national numbers awaiting your call.
Where to get immediate help:
  1. Call 911.
  2. Disaster Distress Helplineexternal icon: 1-800-985-5990 (press 2 for Spanish).
  3. National Suicide Prevention Lifelineexternal icon: 1-800-273-TALK (8255) for English, 1-888-628-9454 for Spanish, or Lifeline Crisis Chatexternal icon.
  4. National Domestic Violence Hotlineexternal icon: 1-800-799-7233 or text LOVEIS to 22522.
  5. National Child Abuse Hotlineexternal icon: 1-800-4AChild (1-800-422-4453).
  6. National Sexual Assault Hotlineexternal icon: 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).
  7. The Eldercare Locatorexternal icon: 1-800-677-1116 TTY Instructionsexternal icon.
  8. Veteran’s Crisis Lineexternal icon: 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or Crisis Chatexternal icon.
Find a health care provider or treatment for substance use disorder and mental health:
  1. SAMHSA’s National Helplineexternal icon: 1-800-662-HELP (4357) and TTY 1-800-487-4889.
  2. Treatment Services Locator Websiteexternal icon.
  3. Interactive Map of Selected Federally Qualified Health Centersexternal icon.
Advancing together in harmonious unity is the personal triumph of each individual over egoism, because unity cannot be created among those who are self-centered and uncooperative.” (NHR-21, 82).

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HISPANIC WOMEN’S LEADERSHIP IN THE 1970’S

September 2020 Issue

The year is 1979, I cannot help but refer to those times when I found solace in the Latina women who welcomed me in Buffalo. It was the same year that there was a ribbing, uproar reaction to a newspaper article (1979) where local writers and editors did not know anything about the Latino population and its many contributions to the city of Buffalo.  It was during that decade that Latinas in Buffalo also experienced the following but advocated and contributed for betterment. Prior to the 1980’s, this was the reality of women rights:
A woman could not get a credit card in her name and not her husband’s, 1974.
A woman could be fired for being pregnant until the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, 1978.
 Women could not serve on juries in all 50 states, until 1973.
 Women were not admitted into the military, until 1973.
The military ban on women being on the front was lifted, 2013.
 Women were not accepted in Ivy league schools, 1969.
 The court did not recognize office sexual harassment as grounds for any legal action,1977.
Spousal rape was not criminalized in all 50 states, until 1993.
Women were not able to obtain health insurance at the same monetary rate as men, until 2010.The age of consent for sex for females was set at ten or twelve in most states, except for our neighboring State of Delaware – where it was 7 YEARS OLD.
The list could go on with all the disparities on how women were seen and treated, especially the Latina women. The average age of the educated, active women had already experienced these injustices and were willing to take on an extra responsibility for the advancement and betterment of our Latina women. The Hispanic Women League wanted much of this information to be filtered down to their communities, to all the women, regardless of their socio-economic position. To facilitate workshops and dissemination of information, they decided to organize a conference, and tailored directly to the Latino community, especially the Latina woman.  There was a panel of knowledgeable women who coordinated workshops and panel presentations. Human trafficking and domestic violence were not yet topics up for open discussion, even though these topics have and continue to affect our Latina women more than any other demographics. In 1986, the Hispanic Women’s League organized, sponsored, and coordinated the first Hispanic Women’s Conference in Western New York. Just to be clear, it was these Latina women pioneers who took the leadership in Western New York. All the women were not treated as leaders, but they all shared a deep-rooted passion to fight injustice against our people – and they seem to all have had enough.

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ENTITLEMENT

August 2020 Issue

You want to know what it means, just look around and see what people are making the decisions and who is listening to them?
The sociological hierarchy starts at the top with white men, followed by white women.
Second on the tier is Black men with Black women, and third, on the downward spiral — Latino men and Latina women.
Why Latino people are on the third tier is because of factors that do not affect the other two, i.e. language and/or citizenship.  
This also means that the sense of entitlement of those on the higher-level trickles down and the Latina women becomes more invalidated from all those on the higher levels. What becomes even harder to grasp is dealing with adversaries from those on her same level.    
If you stay in your designated place, you are causing society a financial hardship, and if you supersede them (members of the other levels), you are a rarity never to be trusted. Even with the significant increase of the Latino population, there are misconstrued “facts” that continue to falsely represent the truth.  
 When it comes to public policy, it the white men and white women making all the decisions – decisions that are culturally sensitive, etc.
Why are white women administrators or directors of women’s issues, when clearly the Latina women have been enduring hardships long before present day shelters. 
In some cases, minority women are fired at a “at will” state, Florida. There was an incident in Tallahassee where a shelter director had fired seven (7) minority women coordinators in less than three (3) years. As of today, this practice or reality continues.
We are now viewing issues for the black men. Some of it includes the black women, but as you see, they must take a back seat. Black women could tell you more about violence than most white women, yet most of the women’s shelters are directed or run by white women.  
Racism and sexism has reached such a high level that most people prefer to think our system is fine – “It is their problem.”
 The first level do not like their comfort zones disturbed. Some people refer to laws as a guideline but those well informed soon learn that slavery was legal, women being wrongly institutionalized was legal, and that even waving the Puerto Rican flag could get you ten years in prison.   
Bottom Line is that some people feel entitled to certain privileges of this society and continue to propagate false conclusions, so it won’t upset their comfort zone.
It needs to be brought, front and center, to realize the facts that more Latina females are victims of human trafficking than any other group, more Latina women are subjected to domestic violence than any other group, and that many of the reported criminal cases with Latina women victims are never solved, in any state.

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SIXTEEN REASONS WHY I FEEL OFFENDED

July 2020 Issue

I felt offended when a classmate in graduate school said, “you are lucky to have a white husband so he could raise your status in society.”
I felt offended when my supervisor told me “you are not worth Florida’s taxpayers money”.
I felt offended when you discussed my car with my husband when I am the one paying for it.
I felt offended when you told me I was “lucky to have Italian blood because you know how Puerto Ricans are.”
I felt offended when you thought public assistance is mostly Latin people.
I felt offended when you told me, “not to say she’s my sister because she is darker.”
I felt offended when you thought I needed you to pay my rent.
I felt offended when you thought somebody must control me.
I felt offended when you are telling me to go back where I came from.
I felt offended when you tell me to succumb to the norm, which I will not.
I felt offended when a hair stylist said, “I could not do my hair because it was coarse.”
I felt offended when you dare ask me, “where are you from?”
I felt offended when you focused on my accent.
I felt offended when you tell me “not to aim so high because I will be disappointed.”
I felt offended every time you behaved as if my skin color gives you rights to belittle me.
I felt offended when you did not hire me because you thought clients would not come to a therapist with an accent.
My journey in life, has given me my share of offenses, and then some, while I continue to contribute to the betterment of it all. Were it not for my grandma’s wise words: “if they do not pay your rent or buy your undies, pay them no mind!” Coming from her was all I needed.
A person who validates your worth by asking you to contribute to society is a rareness all its own, as opposed to someone who discourages you based on their fears.  As I reach the latter part of my life, I try not to offend but support and encourage because, as you see, life hands you many hurdles and the only way to jump through them is to be strong, determined, and focused on your goal. If someone were to ask me, how do I deal with all these undermining, discrediting and shameful social actions, I remember her saying:
“Who pays your rent and who buys your undies?”

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HUMANE VALUES UNDER ATTACK

June  2020 Issue

In OUR WORLD NOW, human values are under attack. We feel overwhelmed, unsure what to do or where to turn. Many of us are fearful about which way our world is heading. Little by little, this toxic tide of hatred is rising around us, and the deep and vital principles that safeguard peaceful societies are at risk of being swept away. We must draw the line – and we can!! One of the ways is to overtake the media with a strong stand for Human Rights all over the world.
The UN Human Rights Office upholds values that are the roots of peace and inclusion. Wherever we are, we can make a real difference. There are effective ways to counter this wave of debilitating inhuman approaches and to resolve worldly issues based on fear. We stand for greater freedoms, stronger respect, and more compassion.
Help break the toxic patterns of a fearful world and embark on a more peaceful and sustainable future. We do not have to stand by while the Haters drive wedges of hostility — we can build bridges. You must be armed with hope, faith, determination, wisdom, and more courage than the Haters. We can raise our voices for decent values. Join us. The time for this is now. Let us know what you are doing, and we will gather your stories, and amplify your voice. Together, we can take a stand for more human values. Promote, Engage and Reflect….
Promote:  Read and share the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Make a video of yourself with a friend talking about why you believe human rights matter (e.g., non-discrimination, gender equality or freedom of expression).
Share incidences where the approach to human rights was totally overlooked.
Share incidences where the fearful approach could have been replaced by a better humanistic solution based on hope for all.  Promote stories on your social media about people who have stood up for human rights.
 Engage:  If you see someone being harassed, bullied, or ridiculed, stand with and for them. If you know someone who is being harassed at work, school, or the community, stand next to them. Use social media to stand with people who are facing reprisals for defending human rights, activists, indigenous leaders, environmentalists, lawyers, trade unionists, journalists, etc. Educate yourself with efforts already in place and join them.
Reflect:  What you can do: Hold thematic discussions/international conferences about the challenges of human rights, past and present. Promote peaceful solutions that are relevant and have the courage to hope and seek direction for betterment.  Create an award to recognize the extraordinary achievements in the field of human rights Per: https://www.standup4humanrights.org/en/events.html.

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PREGNANCY & BREASTFEEDING

May 2020 Issue

21st annual National Women’s Health Week, May 10 – 16, 2020, a national effort by the alliance of government organizations to raise awareness about manageable steps women can take to improve their health.

In lieu of what is happening to us all, here is where we address two lives instead of one.
 Pregnant people have body changes that may increase their risk of infections.
Pregnant people should protect themselves from COVID-19. Avoid people who are sick or who have been exposed to the virus. Clean your hands often using soap and water or alcohol-based hand sanitizer. Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily.
 Risks to the pregnancy and to the baby
Pregnant people have had a higher risk of severe illness when infected with  respiratory infections. It is always important for pregnant people to protect themselves from illnesses.
 Mother-to-Child Transmission:
Mother-to-child transmission of coronavirus during pregnancy is unlikely. Small number of babies have tested positive for the virus shortly after birth. The virus has not been detected in amniotic fluid, breastmilk, maternal samples.
 Breastfeeding if you have COVID-19:
Breast milk provides protection and is the best source for most infants. You, should decide whether or not to start or continue breastfeeding. In limited studies, COVID-19 has not been detected in breast milk.
 If you are sick and choose to direct breastfeed:
Wear a facemask and wash your hands before each feeding. If the you are sick and choose to express breast milk: Express breast milk to establish and maintain milk supply. A dedicated breast pump should be provided. Wash hands before touching anything before expressing breast milk. Follow recommendations for proper pump cleaning after each use. Consider having someone who is well, feed the expressed breast milk.
 The outbreak of Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) may be stressful for people:
Stay informed and Stay in touch Get up-to-date information about COVID-19 activity from public health officials. List organizations you can contact in case you need access to information,  healthcare services, and support. Create an emergency contact list: family, friends, neighbors, healthcare providers, teachers, employers, and the local public health department.
 KEEP YOURSELF HEALTHY:  If you, or someone you care about, are feeling overwhelmed:
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1 Toll-Free: 1-877-SAMHSA-7 (1-877-726-4727) |
Disaster Distress Helpline:1-800-985-5990 or text TalkWithUs to 66746
National Domestic Violence Hotline:  1-800-799-7233 and TTY 1-800-787-3224
Note: Take time to renew your spirit through meditation, prayer, or helping others in need. The information is from CDC sites and the National Domestic Violence Hotline.

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THE WHOLE WORLD MATTERS

April 2020  Issue

During these times of worldly crisis, it makes me appreciate things that money cannot buy.
I have been fortunate to witness many people formally trained or not, show these qualities.
Compassion: The deep feeling of sharing the suffering of another in the inclination to give or provide aid. I have seen compassion rule many decisions, but mostly to take care of the sick. I have learned to deeply admire people who work, at a high risk to themselves, to treat and protect the rest of us.
Wisdom: Understanding of what is true, right or lasting. I have learned about wisdom from people making just, healthy decisions and how to handle this crisis. It does not matter the education, income or religion, I have seen it happen.
Courage: The state or quality of mind or spirit that enables one to face danger with self-possession, confidence and resolution. I have learned the courage it takes to serve people while you know  it is their last moment. People who continue facing danger while still working to serve the sick, the weak and vulnerable despite it all.
I have learned that if you polish and apply these values, in your life, you still will not come close to what these
people are doing all over the world. There is no preparation on how to address this nor do we know when it will end.
Like many other people, I feel helpless, just staying home. Like many other people, I feel scared for my loved ones. Like many other people, I wait for the crisis to end.
How can we help?
1- Stay tuned in to reliable sources of information: i.e. CDC, your state department of health.
2- wash your hands.
3- minimize your human contacts.
4- Take only what you need.
5- Check on your elderly, the vulnerable and the children.
I would like to take this moment to bow my head to all those people who keep providing us with  food, electricity, water, protection, medical provisions, etc. All these which I need on a daily basis. It is at these moments that I see how the whole world means to me.
For however long or short, it may be, this is our life journey, and the whole world matters.

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MARCH – MONTH OF THE WOMEN

March 2020 Issue

MARCH 8th is a global day, celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women, worldwide.
Today, IWD belongs to all groups collectively, everywhere. IWD is not a country, group, or organization specific.
 There are more women in the boardroom, more equality in legislative rights, and an increased visibility of women as role models in every aspect of life.  The unfortunate truth is that women are still not paid equally, women are not equally present in business or politics, and globally women’s education, health and the violence against them is worse. Great strides have been made. We do have female astronauts and prime ministers, schoolgirls are welcomed into university, women can work and have a family. Each year the world sets aside a date to recognize and inspire women and celebrate their worldwide achievements.
1909:  The first National Woman’s Day (NWD) was observed across the U.S. on 28 February.
1975: First time the United Nations celebrated International Women’s Day.
1977:   The General Assembly proclaimed United Nations Day for Women’s Rights and International Peace.
1979: The Hispanic Women’s League became official in Buffalo, New York.
1996:  The UN adopted the theme “Celebrating the past, Planning for the Future”.
1997:  The second theme was “Women at the Peace table” at the United Nations.
1998:  Third theme “Women and Human Rights”.
1999:   Fourth theme was “World Free of Violence Against Women”.
2011:  The first IWD event was held exactly a hundred years ago in 1911.  In the United States, President Barack Obama proclaimed “Women’s History Month”, reflecting on how women have significantly shaped our country’s history. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton launched the “100 Women Initiative: Empowering Women and Girls. In the United Kingdom, celebrity activist Annie Lennox led a superb march across one of London’s bridges raising awareness.
If you still do not know why women need your support:
1- The women in your life have had their herstory invalidated.
2- Women are paid $.70 to the men’s’ dollar.
3- Women’s health is not easily accessible or appropriate.
4- Violence against women is at an all-time high.
“As long as women’s’ happiness is sacrificed, peace for humanity can never be realized. When women shine, they shed light upon their households, their communities and their societies. Therefore, we need to make the 21st century a Century of Women, a time when women will take center stage.” — The quote comes from “Living Buddhism.”
February 2020: So, make International Women’s’ Day your day…. Make a positive difference for women….
https://www.internationalwomensday.com/About

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THIS IS FEBRUARY: THE MONTH TO PONDER ON LOVE

February Issue 2020

I wish to write about the first man I loved so much that many fallen short of him.
Age 12: I remember when I was busy trying to dress appropriate for an ice-skating party. Not only did you help me buy the clothes, but showed me what colors work for me.
Age 13: I recalled how we walked from our home to Lincoln Center, miles away. Not only did you try to patiently answer all the questions I had about life, but you told me I could change whatever I wanted.
Age 14: I remember taking the train and following you to a gang fight where you were the leader. Not only did I follow you, but I quickly stood next to you.
Age 15: I sadly remember seeing you cry when your girlfriend left you. You said if they are worth loving, they are worth crying about.
Age 16: I remember when you told me, you would not shoot women and children. You said it was their land and those women and children were not soldiers.
Age 17: I remember you saying, finish what you start and don’t start something you are not going to finish. You said you would be at my high school graduation, the first of many of my milestones.
Then you are getting ready to leave and I cannot take the train to get there. When will I see you again?  Do they know how far this is?
In between a young girl’s tears, I asked you, who can be more important than me. Who will dress me?  Who will walk and talk with me? Who will teach me how to fight with honor? Who will teach me about loving and crying?
It was then that you said, “We all stand for something.”
“I stand to be a soldier and you stand to be the general.”
“You will tell others what to do to improve our world, just like on our walks.”
“There are many more soldiers waiting for their generals’ orders.”
“I may not be back, so make sure you stand for something.”
I almost did not want to graduate because you were not there.  I almost cut off all my precious, long hair in protest. I almost walked lifeless for months because you would not be back.  I almost died from a life threatening surgery, and mom brought me your picture.
I want you to know I stand for something. Someone who always fights with honor.
You are my older brother who died in Viet Nam, and I cried for you most of all.

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B U L L Y I N G 

January 2020 Issue

This topic has shown its ugly head in far too many places. Most of us are abhorred at the simple idea of it and many seek solutions to address it.
What is bullying? For minors, it is when an individual is taunted, belittled, and sometimes physically assaulted by insecure people. It is usually carried out in packs. They sometimes wrongly justify their actions. It really does not matter the reason before they project their ugliness onto an undeserving individual. Sometimes, it causes so much hardship that socially the individual leaves school, town and/ or maybe ends their life. Decisions taken depends greatly on their inner strength, their support system (if any) and what and who is available to help them salvage their dignity. More times than not, their lives are ruined or close to it when they continue to be invalidated. I think most adults would agree they will not tolerate this type of behavior, especially if they have children in schools.
Let’s step back for a minute:  Bullying has existed for centuries and it rests on the shoulders of adults. Yes, adults. When an individual solicits a consensus from their family, co-workers, colleagues or others to belittle or ruin someone’s reputation and credibility, it carries the same implication. In some circles of our society, we call it sexism, racism, ageism, and many other politically definitions but as adults we think we are above bullying. NOT!!!!
What makes this situation even worst is the indifference and apathy others show while this is happening. Some may even claim to not know. The irony here is that the prosecuted is usually stronger than the offender but does not have weak followers to be accomplices to their atrocious actions. They have been on a solo journey for so long they would not think of soliciting dysfunctional obedience from anyone around them.
I have been a witness and recipient to this type of behavior, adult bullying. Fortunate for me, I had an older brother who protected me while being raised in the ghetto and prepared me on how to handle it later in life. The harsh reality was to accept that it is going to happen. He said only the weak resorts to violence, must be in dysfunctional groups, and only survive when others condone their demented behavior. I not only empowered myself with extensive education, confidence and self-defense but made sure I myself would not resort to adult bullying. It is always the offender who is a coward, low life individual who spends his/her time trying to steal the dignity of others. That I am not!

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Christmas Memories:
When we create lifelong memories

December 2019 Issue

 First, everyone is running around trying to outguess and outshine anyone. Your loved ones would prefer a less stressful you.
Second, people out of guilt make purchases that do not match the recipient of the gift. Your loved ones would prefer your greatest gift, time.
Third, there is the argument, how to greet people during this time. Your loved ones would settle for a smile. So, what are the holidays really all about??? That is a very good question.
My fondest memory of Christmas was when my sisters and I would get up early, crawl under the angel hair on the big, shiny tree and sneak our gifts out to our bedroom before Mom caught us. We never thought about how we were going to place them back and avoid the harsh scolding afterwards. It was drilled to us that we were to get a single gift and anything more would be given to the less fortunate children under five in the neighborhood. We did not mind that, since that meant they could come over and we would all play together.
While the parents were in the kitchen drinking coquito and coffee, the kids took over the living with toys, tape and surprises. It was fun and magical. There were about 15 children, all under five, who looked forward to this moment. We taped each other, wrapped each other in wrapping paper, played with each other’s toys, hair and cherished each moment. We were not only being playful but safe from all the other harms of poverty. Children were treasured and we knew that for this one day we all peacefully, played.
My mother always felt Christmas is for the children and Rockefeller Center, Macy’s parade and Santa always took a back seat to what was happening in their homes.
These children looked forward to playing and enjoying the joy of Christmas. They knew that once a year they would find presents at my mother’s home and just for that day, there would be no fighting, crying, or complaining. Ghetto children had to settle for much less throughout the year but not at my mother’s and not at Christmas.
I want the holidays to always be like those little kids in the ghetto who once year shared laughter, giggled and were silly and so very grateful that Santa left gifts for them.  Fast forward. All those kids (about 15) have grown up and gotten out the ghetto.  They still reach for each other across countries, states and time to share those memories. In their homes, there are always gifts for other children.
They all share Christmas memories, forever…..

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By Lillian Orsini

 NOVEMBER, OUR THANKSGIVING MONTH

November 2019 Issue

On this month, many years ago we are to believe that pilgrims and Indians sat down to eat and gave thanks. Over time, I have learned that accurate history and herstory is not what was taught to us as children, so I have decided to capture the essence of what was done in my home, as I was being brought up, on this month.
First, we come from a long line of Tainos Indians in Puerto Rico and we always gave thanks, every single day. We gave thanks for the crop, for the weather, for water, for a loved one, for a new birth, for the sun, for the rain, for simply being alive.
Carried this over the centuries, and gratitude is still an instilled habit. The following are just a few of the things, your writer is grateful for:
To My Teenage Mother: Who always wanted more for us. To My Sisters: Whose courage and loyalty withstood the test of time.  To My Friends: Who did not let distance or time alter our bonds.
My Foes: Who remind me what I would never want to be.
My Teachers: Who taught me the beauty of learning. My Neighbors: Who share the same environmental challenges.
My Family: Whose daily struggles did not deter them from helping others.
My Accidents: To remind me that everything could quickly be taken away.
My Illnesses: To accept vulnerability and still survive.
My Car: That promotes my much-valued independence.
My Bed: That provides a comfortable rest place for my body and soul.
My Heritage: That gives me a strong sense of identity and purpose.
My Eye Glasses: That allows me to clearly see what I need to see.
My Lovers: That reflect I am worth their love.
My Gender: That combines beauty and boldness.
My Education: That always lets me know, there is so much more to learn.
My Brother: Who bravely fought for us back home. My Colleagues: Wherever they are, provide a safe place for us.
My Computer: That allows me to communicate, quickly and anywhere.
My Doubts: They allow me to sieve and seek the truth
My Spiritual Leaders: They have lifted me up and above expectations.
My Mail Carrier: Timely delivers my valuable mail with a warm smile.
My Childhood: Always reflect dignity despite the poverty.
My Aunts:  Who were always there with welcoming arms and advice.
My Grandmothers: My role models forever.
On this month, take the time to share appreciation and be

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BREAST CANCER: WHAT TO DO?

October 2019 Issue

Discovering a lump in your breast can be cause for concern.  Most breast lumps and other changes don’t turn out to be cancerous. Still, it’s important to know why lumps occur and what steps to take.
What causes breast lumps? Most women have some type of lumpiness in their breasts. For example, some women may have areas of their breasts that are denser than other areas. These lumps usually go away by the end of your period. Lumps can also occur at other times when hormone levels fluctuate, such as during pregnancy, breastfeeding and menopause.  You may also notice lumps or other breast changes if you use hormones such as:
Birth control pills, Injections, and Menopausal hormone therapy.
If you find a lump, you should see your doctor and get it checked out. Your doctor can examine your breasts and the surrounding tissues for any other changes that could indicate a problem.  Be prepared to answer questions:
  • Do you have a family history of breast cancer?
  • When was your last mammogram?
  • What was the date of your last period?
  • Are you pregnant or breastfeeding?
  • What medications are you taking?
  • When did you find the lump?
  • Has the lump gotten smaller or larger?
 Also be sure to tell your doctor about any other breast changes, including:
  • Nipple discharge or tenderness.
  • Redness, dimples or puckers.
  • A change in breast size or shape.
Your doctor may also request other tests. These tests can include:
1- Diagnostic mammogram: Though mammograms are used mostly for screening, this x-ray of the breasts can also be used to get a closer look at breast problems.
2- Breast ultrasound: Using sound waves, a breast ultrasound can be used to target a specific area of concern found on a mammogram. This test can help distinguish between fluid-filled cysts and solid masses and between benign and cancerous tumors.
3- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI): This test creates detailed pictures of the breast that can show the difference between normal and diseased tissue.
4- Biopsy: In this procedure, a sample of cells from the lump is removed for examination. A biopsy is the only definitive way to find out whether a lump is cancerous.
Protect yourself with regular screenings: Finding breast changes early can help detect breast cancer early, when it’s most treatable. Generally, the ACS (American Cancer Society) recommends that women have regular mammograms beginning at age 45. Your doctor can suggest a screening schedule.
Women should get to know their breasts….

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IN OBSERVATION OF LATINO HERITAGE MONTH

September 2019 Issue

In 1979, an article from a Buffalo local paper, claiming that there were no “Hispanic professionals in Buffalo”, set off historic repercussions lasting decades. It has had an impact of immeasurable effect in Western New York.
I was yet 30 and changing the diapers of my second child. I was new to Buffalo, having spend the greater part of the last four years in school and raising my family. I knew some of the women by association but none on a personal note. I had caught the jest of murmurs and adamant reactions to this recent slap in the face.
There were women from all walks of life but mostly educated, professional women, not new to Buffalo. I casually walked back to join the others and very quickly and without hesitation, one of the women said, “We want you to be president. While I may not have known much about this expected role, I knew this was a moment to remember. Within minutes the other positions were nominated for and we now had the first officers of the Hispanic Professional Women’s League.
I was once asked “what were my goals” when I was first elected. I quickly answered “to protect it and make matters officials so we would be respected forever.”
Besides a stern response to that Buffalo article, we now consolidated the most powerful force in herstory: educated, talented, professional women who were advocating for all Latinos in Western New York. You see, we were the wives, sisters, aunts, and mothers who had had enough of unacceptable, and biased belittlements through various public medias.
Besides the “ridicule” and inappropriate jesting, most of us had to endure, the league continued to grow. The largest portion of the league were bilingual educators.
In my first year, I felt like all I did, was nurse my son and the league. Every time we had a meeting it was never a question what to do, it was more like we do not have time to do it all. We decided on promoting Latinx representation across the board, annual dinners, a logo, seek non-profit status, membership fees, and set up scholarship funds.
Now 40 years later, despite the many challenges of life many of the women maintain the spirits that has persisted over decades and many of the daughters and grand daughters carry the torch. Now in Hispanic Heritage month, I salute the Hispanic Women’s League and proud to have been your first president and one of the co–founders.
We are still making herstory, in Western New York…
Editor’s Note: As Puerto Ricans, the Buffalo Latino Village does not observe Hispanic Heritage Month, we honor and observe Latino Heritage Month; however, we do not interfere with our writers’ perspectives on the issue.
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HOW TO BE SUPPORTIVE OF CANCER SURVIVORS

August 2019 Issue

Many times, we think we mean well, when we say, “OOOOHHH, Yes, my aunt had cancer and she died”. Or “my grandmother had cancer, but you know how she suffered so much.” Or maybe, “I know it because my mother had cancer and I had to take care of her.”
Well to be honest, if someone trusts you enough to share this horrible situation with you, honestly tell them, I do not know what to say, but that is shitty.
How can I support you?  The following are some simple suggestions on how to be supportive:
Bring them their favorite meal: The last thing fighting survivors want to think of is cooking but they have to eat.
Get their favorite movie and share viewing it with them: They need quiet company and laughter, not pity.
Take out their garbage: The smell alone will bother their tummy while in treatment. Simple but greatly appreciated.
Help them de-stress: Pay for them to have a massage, pedicure, and/ or manicure.
Do their laundry: Anything tedious takes away their strength and time to heal.
Ask to see their photo albums: Happy memories will boost their immune system.
Offer to take them back and forth to treatment. Many times, people do not have the courage or time, so they stay away.
Here is a real, simple one: send a card that you are thinking of them.
Pick up some groceries for them.
People overlook this one, offer to pay one of their medical bills.
Insurance never pays the total amount, and now while they fight for their lives, while they may face financial ruins.
Cancer can hit anyone in their lifetime. It does not have to be genetically inherited. It does not matter how healthy of a lifestyle you may have had, and it does not discriminate on age, gender, and/ or ethnic background. There are many treatments, but none makes you feel like you are in control of your life anymore.
As a matter of fact, many will feel like you have lost your decision-making power so they will speak above you and even make decisions for you without soliciting your consent. You might even need lawyer (more money) if your employment starts wanting to get rid of you since they may not observe the Federal Disability Act, never mind implementing it.
Cancer is not contagious. Many people will no longer touch or hug a cancer person. Give your loved one a hug and assure them you are on their side, no matter what.

Take Me Back

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