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Queens Chronicle

Salon to raise money for helping battered women

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Posted: Thursday, September 10, 2009 12:00 am

Councilwoman Julissa Ferreras, left, announces a fundraiser for abused women, along with Voces Latinas Executive Director Nathaly Rubio-Torio and stylist Oscar de Silva, right.

On Sept. 8, Oscar de Silva’s salon in Jackson Heights gave all its customers discounts and promised that their money would go to a good cause.

De Silva is donating 100 percent of the revenue his business brought in on Tuesday to Voces Latinas, a nonprofit based in Woodside that provides workshops, support groups, counseling and other services to women in western Queens, with the goal of protecting them from sexual violence, domestic abuse and sexually transmitted diseases.

The idea for the fundraiser was born when the salon owner, who frequently hears personal stories about domestic violence and sexual abuse, told Councilwoman Julissa Ferreras (D-Corona) he wanted to help the victims. Ferreras put him in touch with Voces.

“Oftentimes it’s our hairdressers who hear all kinds of stories, and it’s our hairstylists that become our confidantes, it’s our hairstylists that become our therapists,” Ferreras said.

Nathaly Rubio-Torio, cofounder and executive director of Voces Latinas, said she’s glad to bring additional attention to the problems many women face. She said Latina women in particular are often hesitant to seek help for fear of being stigmatized, or simply because they don’t know their options.

“Certain communities you don’t reach through the Internet or through brochures,” Rubio-Torio said. “You have to talk to them.”

She founded Voces Latinas in 2003 with the intention of informing women about the services available to them and helping them avoid or extract themselves from abusive situations. The organization, which serves 400 to 500 women each year, holds multiple group sessions each week and also offers individual counseling.

“We cannot address illnesses like HIV and AIDS if we do not address violence first,” Rubio-Torio said. “The violence that they’re experiencing most of the time is in their own homes, with their own husbands or partners or family members.”

The amount of money the fundraiser brought in has not yet been announced.

Giraldo crashes Ferreras’ event

As Julissa Ferreras (D-Corona) was wrapping up her announcement about Oscar de Silva’s fundraiser for abused women, Eduardo Giraldo and a small group of supporters marched up, bearing signs that said, “Julissa is Monserrate” and “Where is the money?”

Giraldo, who is challenging Ferreras in the Democratic primary for City Council, was referring to Ferreras’ ties with state Sen. Hiram Monserrate (D-Corona), who has been charged with assaulting his girlfriend and who helped launched the coup which left the Senate paralyzed for about five weeks earlier this year. Ferreras served as Monserrate’s chief of staff while he was a City Council member and has supported him as a senator.

The primary is Sept. 15, and since no Republicans are running for the District 21 seat, the race will likely be decided then.

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