The Latin Domino means "Lord," but to Gilberto Cepin, a resident at the East Side of Bridgeport, dominoes are the small black and white blocks that he uses for the board game when he plays regularly with his friends. Communicating via interpreter, Cepin said that his passion is playing dominoes at the New Hispanic Center in Bridgeport, located off Ogden Street. 62 year-old Cepin further added that with the opening of the center on December 21, 2006, he will be playing a lot of games there from now on as he carefully inspects the rows of tables that are filled to capacity with Spanish food at the Hispanic Center's Christmas Party.
At the same time, it was the grand opening for the Hispanic Center, which the Bridgeport Health Department is currently managing, located in a temporary lot beside the former convent at the St. Charles Borromeo Catholic Church. The Hispanic Center is open on Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
The programs offered at the center include health screenings, arts and crafts, sewing, line dancing and yoga, not to mention bingo. Bridgeport Hispanic Center will also serve as the city's new bingo hall. The Mayor, John M. Fabrizi, dressed as St. Nicholas that day and brought along a shiny, new bingo cage as a gift for the center. A crowd of 40 people, which is mostly a Spanish speaking crowd from the East Side, greeted the mayor singing the song "Feliz Navidad." Mayor Fabrizi said that the $20,000 cash grant from the Southwestern Connecticut Agency on Aging made the launch possible.
The Hispanic center is also a result of the partnership between the Health Department, the Recreation Department, the Sacred Heart University School of Nursing, Optimus Health Care and the SWCAA. The new Hispanic Center is the 4th Senior Center in Bridgeport. The others are located in Black Rock and the North end. Much of the community volunteered to be on the entertainment committee for the center's opening.
One of those volunteers is Lydia Maldonado, dressed in a red skirt and black boots as she slowly dances Samba, accompanied by Puerto Rican music playing at the portable CD player. Through an interpreter, she said that she just loves to dance anywhere she can, every chance she gets. A group of Puerto Rican musicians and singers, like Juan Maldonado on the guitar, Sandra Santa on guitar, vocalist Herminio Ramos and Hector Nieves on the cuatro, a Puerto Rican mandolin, unpacked their instruments and ate rice and beans.
According to Rev. Edicson Orozco, the parochial vicar for St. Charles Church, Hispanic Seniors living on the East Side will be the main benefactors of the new center, since it will give the seniors more time to do things that will entertain them. With all the bingo gamesthere will be no lack of activities. There is also a small chapel at the Hispanic center, which was formerly used by the sisters in the convent. According to Sister Ann Moles, who co-founded the parish house in 1981, it is frequently used.
Thursday, February 01, 2007