Sunday, to two days, Saturday and Sunday.
After five years or so of operating Círculo de la Hispanidad, the dream to build a Community Center began taking
shape in Gil’s mind. The challenges were so many that he did not know how to begin to reach that objective. He
kept this thought in the back of his mind and later used his experience organizing festivals as a means to start to raise
funds for this dream.
uring these years we continued to provide youth activities. Our youth program largely consisted of a youth
committee, theater for children and adults, guitar classes, summer camp, homework assistance programs,
and the tuna choir. We also had basketball Friday for adolescents and our new program, PAVE, that provided
assistance to at risk high school students.
During Círculo’s first years of operation from 1980 -1983 Mr. Bernardino began to observe an increase in requests for
help from women who had partners and spouses that abused them. Individuals came to the organization to seek help
and advice. There was an organization in Nassau County at that time to support victims of abuse, the Nassau County
Coalition Against Domestic Violence; however they did not have bilingual staff to attend to the needs of Spanish
speaking victims of domestic violence. With the support from Nassau County Department of Social Services, Círculo
established the Salva Domestic Violence Program to provide support to abused Hispanic women.
The name Salva was chosen because in Spanish it means “to save”. We wanted to call attention to the Hispanic
community that this was a program that could provide safety and support to victims of violence.
With funding from the New York State, Círculo establish the first bilingual English/Spanish hotline to support
victims of violence in New York State. Funding also supported staff to provide case management, support groups
and court advocacy.
The Hempstead office was established around 1985. Gil Bernardino wanted to create an office to meet the needs
where many Hispanics resided. It was clear over thirty years ago that many Hispanics lived in Hempstead and nearby
communities. Additionally Hempstead was centrally located in Nassau County.