On April 28, 2017, La Familia’s Development Department team participated in Congreso Familiar as volunteers for the annual conference! Congreso Familiar is an organization that is a collaboration of parents, professionals, and community agencies. The goal of Congreso Familiar is to provide education, information, and a sense of community to Spanish speaking families. Congreso Familiar holds an annual conference for Spanish speaking families who have children or family members with disabilities. Over a thousand people from different counties, mainly the San Francisco Bay, attend the conference. The conference promotes and develops leadership skills to families that have a child or family members with disabilities.
During the month of April, La Familia’s project KEY hosted graduation ceremonies for La Familia’s first academy for young adults (youth 17+ who aren’t attending high school). The youth participants completed an 8 week career exploration program, during April 12-22.
Youth participants gained exposure to the fastest growing industries in the Alameda County: advanced manufacturing, construction, and health care. The program also held motivational and industry related talks and speeches. The program also featured Bay area artist Suga-T and technical staff from Tesla.
The students also had the opportunity to attend field trips to: Tri-Ced Community Recycling, The Maker’s space at the Hayward Center for Education and Careers, Cypress Mandela Training Center, Tiburcio Vasquez Health Center, Youth Job Fair (coordinated by Hayward Unified School District’s Youth Enrichment Services, Las Positas College, and Ohlone College.
As an organization that has long championed the importance of caring for mental health, the beginning of this year's Mental Health Awareness Month is particularly special to all of us here at La Familia. Each year, we serve hundreds of people who either have mental health challenges themselves or who have a loved one with those needs. One of the reasons that we know our work is so needed is that, while Latinos have the same prevalence of mental health needs, they seek treatment far less often than their non-Latino peers.
Mental health needs are more in-demand than ever, and 15% of Latinos living in the United States have had a diagnosable mental illness in the past year. Of these individuals, only 10% sought treatment; contrary to popular belief, however, according to a recent report “Hispanics or Latinos may have more positive attitude toward mental health treatment seeking than non-Hispanic whites.”
We are excited to announce that La Familia will collaborate with the Fremont Youth Empowerment Academy (FYEA) to create a space specifically for Fremont’s youth population that will enhance programming towards the youth population. Also, La Familia will unite all employment programs.
The FYEA summer program purpose is to help at risk and probation youth develop with better decision making skills, health skills, life skills, and leadership development. Furthermore, the program offers summer employment and community service opportunities.
FYE and La Familia discussed using the space in Fremont at the Family Resource Center (FRC), that La Familia and FYEA reconstruct it to be used for programming in the summer. However, the space is scheduled to be demolished on May 15th. Currently, Highway to work, Project Key (WIOA), and Vocational English as a Second Language/Employment Services (VESL) are using the building.
We would like to announce some great news! La Familia has now partnered up with the International Rescue Committee (IRC) to put a stop to human trafficking in the Alameda County.
The IRC tackles the world’s worst Humanitarian crises and helps those affected survive, rebuild, and live a better life. Last year, the IRC and their partner organizations helped 26 million people (International Rescue Committee, 2017). La Familia Counseling is now in partnership with the IRC to fight sexual exploitation and forced labor human trafficking in the Alameda County.
On March, 20 2017 La Familia's Executive Director Aaron Ortiz was honored with the Hayward Rotary Club Professional Excellence Award!
The purpose of this award is to recognize outstanding professionals that have been dedicated to serving the Hayward community. Each year the Hayward Rotary club awards three individuals from one these professional sectors: Private, nonprofit, and public. This year the winner of the nonprofit organization sector was Aaron Ortiz.
Aaron Ortiz was raised in Hayward and graduated from California State University, Eastbay. He has dedicated his career helping, youth, adults, and families in Hayward and in the San Francisco Bay Area by providing access to education, public health, mental health, work force development, youth development, culturally competent programs, and family preservation.
In order to honor “National Development Disabilities Awareness Month”, Edda Banuelos- La Familia Developmental Disabilities Director and Elvia Osorio – RCEB Associate Director were interviewed by Kira Vilanova from Univision’s Spanish language morning news: Despierta Área de la Bahía. The purpose of the interview was to inform the Latino community in the Bay Area about the resources available that assist family members with developmental disabilities provided by La Familia and the Regional centers.
The Regional Center is a private, Non- Profit Corporation established in 1976 and is under contract with the California Department of Developmental services. The Regional Center works in partnership with other organizations to coordinate, plan, and support individuals with developmental disabilities. There are three Regional Centers located in the Bay Area: Golden Gate Regional Center (San Francisco), San Andreas Regional Center (San Jose) and Regional Center of the East Bay (San Leandro).
April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, and because sexual assault unfortunately affects so many people it is we wanted to take this opportunity to share some information on the topic, especially as it relates to the clients we see at La Familia.
Figures from various sources estimate that 1 in 4 women in the U.S. are assaulted in their lifetimes (1 in 6 for men), but many experts agree that this number may be an underestimate since so many people face barriers to reporting their assault either to law enforcement or even to anyone at all. Campaigns in recent years have worked to reduce these barriers, marking visibility as an important element in de-shrouding sexual assault of its stigma and shame. International estimates show that sexual violence varies greatly from country to country, with countries such as Costa Rica and Uganda reporting that 41% and 39% of girls/women experiencing sexual violence at some time in their lives (along with 10 other countries reporting rates of at least 25%).
What these numbers do not tell us, however, is the impact of sexual assault and especially the psychological impact of sexual assault.
26% of women who have been sexually assaulted reported major psychiatric problems and 81% reported having current psychological difficulties – regardless of time since assault (Sarkar and Sarkar, 2005) and approximately 30% of rape survivors qualify for a PTSD diagnosis as a result of the rape compared to 9% of people who experience any other type of trauma will qualify for PTSD at some time (Resnick, Kilpatrick, and Dansky, 1993).
These numbers are important because they tell the story that not only is sexual assault far more prevalent than we would wish, but that its psychological impacts are more profound than any other traumatic experience save for combat (and incidences of PTSD among combat veterans are roughly equivalent to individuals who experience sexual assault).
Here at La Familia, we know that many of our clients are vulnerable to assault for any number of reasons. And up to 68% of individuals who seek and receive outpatient mental health treatment have a history of either physical or sexual assault; a rate much higher than the general population. As a result, we have made extra efforts in recent years to incorporate trauma-informed interventions in our mental health work. This includes training staff in the use of Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing Therapy and the opening of the Trauma Recovery Center program in partnership with the Alameda County Family Justice Center.
Recently, our Chief Financial Officer Kimani Kamau completed his Masters of Business Administration (MBA) degree. I sat down with him to talk about why he chose to pursue the additional education and discuss its meaning to him and to La Familia.
C: Why go for your MBA?
K: An MBA provides me with the soft skills of being better in strategy. It equips me and brings more clout to the organization. I do have an interest in going back to Africa, and going back without an MBA, is as good as I should never even have come to the United States, that’s our culture. That’s how it is. When you get to America, the first expectation is that when you get back, is it something that you bring back.
C: What do you think having a MBA does for your role here at La Familia?
K: Part of my landing through my MBA is, going to enhance my negotiating skills, going to also enhance my capacity to be more analytical, provide more insight into operational efficiency and things like that. I think it is a great asset. I mean LF should truly be proud to having me as a MBA, it just means I’m going to be able to provide more form of professional leadership. That is how I see it.
C: When did you start the MBA program?
K: I started in the spring of 2015.
C: So you did it in two years?
K: Actually I did it in less than 2 years, because there were 2 summers in between, where I didn’t take any classes. So it’s been a marathon. It’s been a grueling experience. Just having to do three classes, a fulltime position as a CFO…Then, as a husband and as a father of two boys. It’s been a lot of work. I’m still experiencing the hangover right now. Of not going home and not reading or not logging into my laptop and not doing some research.
On February 24, 2017 all of La Familia staff and board members were invited to a special Staff Appreciation Event. The event was held at the Martin Luther King Jr. Shoreline Center, more than 75 staff attended the superhero themed event.
The staff at La Familia work hard every day to ensure that the community members, who receive our services, are getting everything they can from their experience with La Familia.
These staff members are the face of our organization to the adults, youth, children, and families who participate in one or more of our various programs. It seemed only fitting that we celebrate their dedication with a sense of fun and joy.