Sunday, December 11, 2016

Catalina Serrano

Catalina Serrano serves as the Hispanic representative
of her local chapter of the NAACP. 

For her work empowering women, especially victims of domestic violence, and for her advocacy on behalf of families with autistic children, Caty Serrano is recognized as one of our 2016 Human Rights Award winners. 

Catalina (Caty) Serrano was born in Mexico City. After high school, she pursued a course of study in education in college.

In December 2001, after entry into the United States and marrying, she fled a situation of domestic violence by living in a shelter for battered women in El Paso, Texas. In March 2002, she won a scholarship to study for her American GED in the University of Texas, El Paso (UTEP).

In August of 2002, Catalina moved to Oklahoma City, where she lives to this day.

Catalina has always wanted to help and serve people who are victims of abuse. Since 2004, she has become increasingly interested in the programs and benefits that this county offers to any people who are victims of abuse.

Because of their legal status or the status of their family, female immigrants are often too scared to go these programs and take this aid. Catalina has volunteered for several wonderful organizations such as the YWCA, the Skyline Urban Ministry, Love OKC, Habitat for Humanity, and EduCare. On two occasions, Catalina has helped present classes on domestic violence and sexual violence offered by the YWCA.

In July 2011, she was invited to help establish the “First Congress of Latina Women” together with two more female survivors of domestic violence under the LCDA (Latino Community Development Agency). That conference took place with great success in March, 2012.

On December 5th of the same year, Catalina decided to start her own foundation, the ForMuLaOk (Forum of Latin Woman in Oklahoma). The purpose is to assist any member of the community in crisis. They assist with translators in the court, advice for the Victims Protective Order (VPO), counseling and mentoring with different agencies, and assistance with food and clothing. In 2012, together with its committee and a team of volunteers, ForMuLaOK celebrated the International Day of Women in March and designated October as “Month of non-violence against women or gender-based violence.”

Last year, in February, the foundation presented a series of classes called “You Decide!” The seven-session classes have the sole objective of empowering women to make better decisions in their lives. The community embraced these events.

All of this has not been easy. Catalina is the mother of 5 children – ages of 25, 16, 9, 8, and 6. The youngest child was diagnosed at the age of 3 with autism. Since 2015, Catalina – together with her husband Ariel Salazar – have been parent mentors for other families with children who have been diagnosed with autism.

Catalina was appointed in March, 2016, as the Hispanic representative of the NAACP. In August, she was appointed by AUCD (Association of University Centers on Disabilities) as an ambassador for a new nutrition program for everyone focused on families with disabled children.

The Oklahoma Human Rights Awards are co-sponsored each year by the Oklahoma Universal Human Rights Alliance and the Oklahoma City chapter of the United Nations Association. 

Previous winners of the award include educators, physicians, students, and community volunteers from many different communities and all walks of life. They are united by their enduring commitment to the values and principles expressed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

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