Executive Director of Community Prevention Alternatives for Families in Crisis Nature Counseling Center
COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT: The overall mission of the Community Prevention Alternatives for Families in Crisis Nature Counseling Center (CPAFCC) is to provide support services to achieve a stable living environment for the neediest and most underserved target population. Flores-Vazquez works with faith-based organizations and local coordinators to work towards an end to domestic violence.
“People always asked, ‘what do you want?’ but I never want anything for it; I just want people better off,” she said.
Flores-Vazquez has been active for many years, working with local advocacy groups and holding parenting seminars and workshops designed to educate participants about domestic violence and related topics. She plans to work hard with bi-lingual volunteers to remove language barriers in the Flushing community and beyond to serve an even larger population.
JOB: Martha Flores-Vazquez has the “sometimes thankless job” of being the executive director of the CPAFCC. It’s an organization that aims to provide housing and support services to the homeless, homeless veterans, people with mental illness and substance abuse, people with HIV/AIDS and victims of domestic violence. Flores-Vazquez founded the non-profit organization on Valentine’s Day, 2006 because “it’s about the work that comes from the heart,” she said.
PERSONAL: Flores-Vazquez has been a “proud single mom” for 25 years. Her son Michael Zane Vazquez works for the city’s Department of Sanitation. Flores-Vazquez also serves as the first female Puerto Rican district leader of the 22nd Assembly District, acting as the medium between the public and all other agencies. “It’s a positive thing that I can do through that position,” she said. Flores-Vazquez is also the former chair of the Graduate Student Council at the City University of New York (CUNY), and she ran for City Council in 2001 because “I felt that I could make a difference in a diverse community.”
PROUDEST MOMENT: “The reaction that comes from the community, the response from people in need that have a place they can go to and get support; I can’t begin to tell you how important that is.”
FAVORITE MEMORY: When Flores-Vazquez decided to run for the 20th Council District, of which she has been a resident for 33 years, “one of the members in the program called and asked ‘are you all right? What if something happens?’” said Flores-Vazquez. The concern the member had for her was so great that “the feeling of someone saying ‘I need you around’ was a great memory,” she said.
BIGGEST CHALLENGE: “Bringing everyone together and getting everyone to respect cultural differences and preferences,” said Flores-Vazquez. She also spoke about getting people of a multitude of cultures to be sensitive of the needs of others by viewing the world through the eyes of someone else and learning respect despite ethnic and cultural differences.
INSPIRATION: One of Flores-Vazquez’s sources of inspiration was from the academic mentors from the Department of Psychology and Women’s Studies at CUNY.
She was also inspired to take action after she did some work in the community, reached out to elected officials and expected “some sort of support somewhere, but it never happened.” After Flores-Vazquez, who is also a licensed realtor, sold two houses, she used the money to hire a consultant, help with a proposal and get not for profit certification for CPAFCC.