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Celebrating Diversity and Empowerment

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Denise Latempa, Support Services Specialist at Casa Di Vita, has been leading the way in creating engaging programs for the women she works with that help build awareness and a stronger sense of community. In honor of Black History Month, Denise put together a special event called “Black History Month Day” where each resident presented on a Black figure that influenced them in some way.

“We had each resident come up with a presentation of a Black person that would influence them in some kind of way. It could have been a family member, a famous person, a person from the past, it didn’t matter,” However, the residents didn’t stop there – they also prepared a meal for themselves from scratch. Denise was impressed with their dedication and teamwork. “I just pointed them in the right direction and they ran with it!” Denise explained. “We had a soul food dinner. We had collard greens, mac and cheese, baked ham with pineapple. And after everybody did their presentation, we had a big, big feast.”

The event was a success, with many residents participating and learning about the contributions of Black figures throughout history. Denise’s goal was to “educate them and empower them and to acknowledge our people…keep everything inclusive so everybody can learn about each other.”

Denise Latempa, Support Services Specialist
Denise Latempa, Support Services Specialist

Now, in honor of Women’s Empowerment Month, Denise has planned another exciting program for the residents at Casa Di Vita. “We are planning another big meal and an ice cream social. Every day a resident gets to be ‘Queen of the Day’,” Denise shared. “They have to wear their little tiara and they have their scepter and they just sit around and do whatever they want. They have hands off for that day.”

Denise believes that it’s important to show the women that they are special and that they can have fun without the use of substances. “Women have certain stigmas and stereotypes,” she said. This is especially true for women with substance use disorders and histories of addiction. “But I want to teach them that they are somebody,” Denise added.

Denise’s efforts have not gone unnoticed by the staff at Casa Di Vita. “They’re learning how to have fun without guys around, to be comfortable with themselves and not worry about, ‘oh they’re judging me’.” Denise shared that she’s figuring out more ways for her and her colleagues to empower each other, and the residents seem to appreciate it.

Denise’s dedication to the women at Casa Di Vita is truly inspiring. Her efforts to educate, to empower, and to uplift the women she works with have not gone unnoticed. We at Caz Recovery are proud to have her on our team.

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