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Proyecto Madres: Changing Women’s Lives For Two Years

Ask any of the two dozen Latino women assembled at the Mamaroneck CAP Center on June 22. They’ll tell you how Proyecto Madres, the CAP Center support group whose second anniversary they have come to celebrate, has changed their lives.

Take Fidelia Alondra, a 38 year-old mother of three.  She was still reeling from a seemingly endless series of tragedies that had claimed the lives of her mother, brother and two cousins when she emigrated to Mamaroneck  from Mexico three years ago seeking a fresh start.

“I came because I thought that things would be better here,” she reflected softly in Spanish. But all too soon she discovered that, in ways she never anticipated, things got worse. “I couldn’t speak English and I didn’t know anyone,” she lamented of those days. “I’ didn’t go out. I didn’t do anything. I was extremely shy.”

With no friends or social life to speak of, with her husband at work and daughters off to pre-school each day, she found herself alone in her apartment for hours on end with nothing but grief to keep her company.

“I was so depressed,” she recalls. “I felt all alone.”

Then her daughter came home from school with a Proyecto Madres flyer in her backpack. Written in Spanish as well as English, the flyer invited Ms. Alondra to join her sister Latinas in sharing their cares and concerns at the 3 Jalapenos Restaurant on the third Wednesday of each month.  There, she could enjoy breakfast and free baby-sitting while being treated to guest lectures, Q and A sessions, and instruction in Spanish regarding services, information, issues and opportunities relevant to her and her family.

Intrigued, Ms. Alondra decided to give it a try.  It was, she recalled, like coming home.

That was over a year ago. She has been a member ever since.

Fidelia Alondra, left, has found a "new home" in the Proyecto Madres group coordinated by Lucia Chamorro, right.

Fidelia Alondra, right, has found a "new home" in the Proyecto Madres group coordinated by Lucia Chamorro, left.

Proyecto Madres Comes to Mamaroneck

Conceived as a source of solidarity, support, and empowerment for Hispanic women, the first Proyecto Madres chapter was established three years ago in Port Chester by the Junior League of Westchester on the Sound. Encouraged  by its success there, the organizers cast about for another venue where they could establish a chapter.

It wasn’t long before they found an eager partner.

“I’d been looking for a program that would empower women,” says Luis Quiros, Board Chairman of WestCOP (the CAP Center’s parent organization) and longtime Mamaroneck resident. “In fact, when I want to start any grass root program, I always appeal to the women first. If it’s a viable idea, women will run with it. They’re nurturers. So when the Junior League of Westchester on the Sound proposed the idea to me I jumped on it.”

Founded in 2007, the Mamaroneck chapter has since thrived thanks to the support of the Junior League and additional funding from the Larchmont/Mamaroneck Summit and longtime WESTCOP supporters Ridgewood Savings Bank and the Sunshine Lady Foundation.

Two dozen members of Proyecto Madres celebrated the group's second anniversary.

Two dozen members of Proyecto Madres celebrated the group's second anniversary.

Now Celebrating Its Second Year

For Ms. Alondra and the others at the CAP Center celebration, Proyecto Madres has proved to be a bridge between the lives they left behind in their native land and the new lives they strive to establish for themselves here in Mamaroneck.

Symbolic of the changes they have all been making, each woman at the anniversary party got a certificate of appreciation, a takeaway gift provided by FujiFilm of Valhalla, and a framed, color, photo portrait of themselves taken during a “Day of Beauty” excursion to Giselle’s Salon in Larchmont, where they each received a complete makeover free of charge.

As Lucia Chamorro, Proyecto Madres’ coordinator, calls each member to the center of the room to receive her gifts,  there are are oohs and ahs over each  portrait.

A raffle follows. The prize?  A  FujiFilm digital camera. But the biggest excitement of the fiesta turns out to be Ms. Chamorro’s husband, Marcelo, who is ever on hand to do anything he can to help her make Proyecto Madres a continued success. Today, armed with a CD player and quad speakers, he leads the ladies, step by step, through a complex macarena.

Squeals of delight peal out each time he works his hips. Laughter erupts over each fumble and misstep as the women attempt to emulate his moves. At the front of the pack, Fidelia Alondra sways rhythmically to the irrepressible beat, head tilted skyward, eyes half shut. The worry lines etched in her forehead by years of struggle recede behind the radiance of her smile.

“Now,” she says, “I know I’m not so alone.”

Members of the Proyecto Madres received certificates of appreciation at the second anniversary party.

Members of the Proyecto Madres received certificates of appreciation at the second anniversary party.




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5 comments to Proyecto Madres: Changing Women’s Lives For Two Years

  • Proyecto Madres in Port Chester is very important especially in these difficult times when parents need to support and raise families.

    Projects like this are the ones that make a difference in people’s lives. I am an immigrant resident of Port Chester and mother of three children. I believe this programs really help families.
    Thank You.

  • Proyecto Madres in Port Chester is very important especially in these difficult times when parents need to support and raise families.

    Projects like these are the ones that make a difference in peoples lives. I am an immigrant resident of Port Chester and mother of three children. I believe this programs really help families.
    Thank You.

  • Guisela Marroquin

    This program has a lot of the “Pay It Forward” effect. The Junior League and WestCOP begin the giving chain and the women in the project in turn can contribute to their communities with their newly acquired skills and confidence. Many of these women become active participants of other worthy causes. I recently read an article in the Westcher Hispanic where Fidelia Alondra was featured for her work with the Women’s Enterprise Development Center in White Plains. What a great way to exemplify the potential of a little helping hand!

  • Flory Palencia

    Definitely, projects like madres and others will help a lot of latinas in Port Chester, not only to share their experiencies, but ideas for future plans, or share ways to improve their lives,and invite others to participate. I am an immigrant from Guatemala, and resident of Port Chester.

  • legaltoo

    Proyecto legal madres has my support. Proyecto “came from Mexico three years ago three years ago without immigration papers” does not. Since it is all in Spanish, this one can be run back home in Mejico for all I know.