Friday, January 2, 2009

Latinas create online social club

With Web site, network of comadres grows
Melissa RenterĂ­a - Express-News

An online network that aims to unite Latinas has grown from a few dozen in one Texas city to thousands across the country.

Las Comadres de las Americas, an online network of almost 12,000, has been connecting Latinas since the group's creation in 2000, when two Rio Grande Valley natives living in Austin hosted a potluck dinner as a way to meet more Latinas in the city.

“A lot of these women have become comadres in the deepest sense of the word, that's what I'm most proud of,” says Nora de Hoyos Comstock, president of Las Comadres and the group's main facilitator who oversees its Web site,

Comstock, who graduated from Providence High School here and now lives in Austin, took the small network of comadres and gave them an Internet presence.

“Getting together didn't seem like something we could do,” Comstock says of the practicality of making Las Comadres an online network.

Today, Las Comadres is a twofold group: an online network where Latinas can connect through e-mail and newsletters, and a network of several dozen chapters with its local members hosting monthly potluck meals called comadrazos.

Membership in Las Comadres is free and open to all Latinas, women married to Latinos and women who demonstrate they have “el corazon Latino,” says Comstock, who sorts through hundreds of e-mails a week sent to her by comadres for posting in the group's electronic newsletter.

Members share news on everything from job openings to items for sale. At the monthly comadrazos, which are usually held in a member's home, members often exchange business cards and have a chance to promote their business.

Christine Gonzalez, one of the founding members of the San Antonio chapter of Las Comadres, says she enjoys the camaraderie of the group, particularly among young Latinas.

“I get to meet these young, aspiring women who are just starting out in their careers,” Gonzalez says.

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