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New group seeks to raise funds for Dominican Republic

Date: 1/26/2011

Jan. 26, 2011

By G. Michael Dobbs

Managing Editor

HOLYOKE — The New Horizons Family Community Center serving both Holyoke and Springfield hopes to raise awareness and funds to help families in need both here in Hampden County and the Dominican Republic with a fundraising dinner on Feb. 26.

Felicita Lopez, the executive director of the new organization, explained to Reminder Publications, the dinner at the War Memorial on Appleton Street, will feature Dominican cuisine including a traditional stew, salads, a plantain dish, eggplant casserole and much more. Tickets are $35.

Lopez said this is the first fundraising event for the new organization and she knows personally the challenges facing families in the Dominican Republic. Her husband is Dominican and they have visited the country after the devastating earthquake that hit Haiti in 2010.

She explained the border was opened between the two countries to allow Haitian refugees to enter, which have brought additional challenges to the country.

She noted that one sees many younger children approaching cars at intersections cleaning windshields. The school dropout rate has also increased.

The funds raised by the dinner would be used to provide uniforms and school supplies for children, medicine for the elderly and educational programs in the town of Guayacanes in the Dominican Republic.

"This event will also bring cultural awareness on the diverse Hispanic population in our communities, such as the Dominican culture," she said.

Lopez said that if successful she would like to establish a foundation in a Hispanic country each year that would have ties with her organization.

The dinner will also feature guest speakers, cultural demonstration and music.

For more information and to buy tickets, call Lopez at 657-9144.

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