MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - This month, WMC Action News 5 is partnering with La Prensa Latina to bring stories of people in the Mid-South’s Hispanic community for Hispanic Heritage Month. Ines Negrette is a woman who is fighting for victims of violence in the immigrant community.
In 1999, Ines Negrette, with her new law degree, immigrated to the United States from Venezuela. In Memphis, she found a calling she never thought she was meant for.
“I said, ‘it’s my decision to be a part of the problem, and keep complaining, or be a part of the solution, and try my best to do something for this city that has been through a lot,’” Negrette said.
In 2016, Negrette opened CasaLuz, an advocacy center to help members of the Hispanic community who have been victims of domestic violence, sexual assault and other crimes.
“When we’re talking about intimate crime -- domestic violence and sexual assault--the cultural part is vital,” Negrette said. “The client should feel this person can connect with me.”
Negrette said often clients come to CasaLuz before calling the police. Advocates can help interpret with police and file police reports, but services also include counseling and legal advice.
Negrette said she opened CasaLuz after she saw people unwilling to help immigrants who were victims of crimes, and saw immigrants were too scared to report the crimes.
Her goal was to help 150 people over three years, but she helped 160 people in the first year of CasaLuz being open.
"First of all, we're not here to judge anybody," Negrette said. "If we can help other human beings we should do it. Our work does not just benefit the Hispanic community, it will benefit our city as a whole. When we help an immigrant woman leaving the cycle of abuse, we help their children have a better and brighter future. Those children are U.S. citizens. They live here."
Last year, CasaLuz expanded its services to help victims of other violent crimes like aggravated assault, and Negrette immediately saw a similar need.
“The goal was to serve 70 clients per year and our advocates served 101,” Negrette said.
Negrette has now found partners across Shelby County.
CasaLuz means light house, and that's what Negrette wants to be for the Hispanic Community here-a guiding light.
“We feel really honored in the trust the community has in our work,” Negrette said.
On Oct. 4, CasaLuz will host an English seminar on the cycle and impact of domestic violence. For more on that event, click here.
For more on Hispanic Heritage Month, click here.