The BG-based Cocoon Shelter opened its doors eight years ago to provide shelter and assistance to women and their children fleeing domestic violence situations. But the social service agency has expanded its Wood County-based services to include
24-hour advocacy, support and crisis intervention; help obtaining protection orders, crime victim compensation, medical care and meeting basic needs.
“I’m happy and excited because I’m going to a subject that matters to me, which is women’s rights and domestic violence advocacy,” she said. “I’m definitely starting a new network in Wood County. I’m starting fresh. I’m starting all over. It’s a great feeling.”
But there is some familiarity with Latino groups in the Bowling Green area for her already. She and Beatriz Maya, formerly of the Farm Labor Organizing Committee (FLOC), are both natives of Argentina. Ms. Maya recently worked with others to launch a BG-based group: La Conexión de Wood County.
It is expected that La Conexión will work with Cocoon Shelter staff to help Latino families develop financial literacy, economic independence, and plug in to area support groups—in addition to domestic violence-related services.
“In terms of domestic violence, all my networking will be starting over. All my connections and everything I’ve done before is here in Lucas County, so that part is very exciting,” she said. “The legal system, the courts, they have their own system, so I have to get familiar with all of that. But to extend what I’ve done in Lucas County to Wood County, that’s the thrill.”
Ms. Annoni will continue the work of a non-profit organization she founded in Toledo known as El Centro de la Mujer, whose mission is to provide comprehensive, bicultural/bilingual social services to Latins in Northwest Ohio through education, advocacy, and empowerment. The organization also receives support from Toledo Area Ministries. She called that a “win-win.” Ms. Annoni, however, will move activities of El Centro from Monday to Sunday, where she assists over 20 Latinas. Ms. Annoni will also continue her editing with La Prensa and La Revista.
“They really want to embrace the Latino culture, open the doors to more Latinas,” she said. “It’s a huge problem in every culture. But it’s the way the family works. Sometimes domestic violence is not seen as a crime or something that the women don’t deserve because of the family structure.”
Ms. Annoni expects to work extensively in rural Wood County, reaching out to migrant farmworker families—especially during the growing season as a means of “extending the services of the shelter and going out to the fields.”
The Cocoon Shelter has expanded its outreach, meaning Ms. Annoni and others now have access to office space in Perrysburg and North Baltimore, in addition to the Bowling Green area.
“I’m excited to be working with people who are highly professional and are passionate about what they do,” she said.
Ms. Annoni believes she will be able to relate to Latina domestic violence victims, because she, too, was an immigrant at one point in her life.
“My mother was raised on a farm, so I saw how she migrated in Argentina and the challenges that she went through,” she said. “Sometimes, we as immigrants, we as Latinas, want to keep doing the same things we did in our own country. It doesn’t work like that in a new mainstream society.”
Ms. Annoni stated that Latinas from immigrant families tend to “close off” because they have trouble assimilating to life in the U.S., as well as typically face a language barrier.
“Our main support system is our family, and most migrants don’t have their families here,” she explained. “That’s a challenge right there. Where are you going to go? You don’t speak the language. Who’s going to understand? Remember, this is the father of our children and we committed to do this. What are our families going to say?”
October also happens to be Domestic Violence Awareness Month, a time for the community to come together and build awareness and a movement towards safe and healthy relationships for all individuals and families.
Domestic violence touches every person in a community and society as a whole; and violates a person’s dignity, safety, and basic human rights. Families can find more information about Domestic Violence Awareness Month and shelter services at http://www.cocoonshelter.org/ .
Ms. Annoni has a five-year counseling degree from the University of Buenos Aires and has been actively involved in Bandana Projects for the past four years. She is a board member of Cleveland-based Ohio Alliance to End Sexual Violence.
On the Internet: https://laprensatoledo.com/Stories/2009/050109/Adelante.htm