COMMUNITY RESOURCE CENTERS
Although he’s only 13 years old, Julio has already shown he’s a leader. When the Community Resource Center at his school, Washington Elementary, began a Life Skills class for students, he was the only one to show up at the first meeting. Over the next couple of weeks, Julio convinced more and more of his friends to join him at the after-school classes. Eventually, Julio and 10 other students graduated from the program.
Julio says his favorite part of the program was performing skits with his friends to demonstrate how they would say no to drugs. “We had a lot of fun doing the plays and we learned how to keep away from drugs,” he says. The students also created posters detailing the dangers of different kinds of drugs.
Julio’s mother, Gloria, says “I’m glad my son participated in the program,” especially as he enters junior high where he may face more challenging situations. In fact, someone recently offered him drugs. Gloria was proud that Julio refused and talked to his parents about what had happened. After learning more strategies in the Life Skills program, Julio says he feels confident that he will keep his promise to his parents to never get involved in drugs or alcohol. Gloria says the class also presented a chance for the whole family to talk. “Julio would come home and at dinner we’d talk about what he learned in the class. We talked about everything.”
Gloria plans to attend parenting classes at the Resource Center to continue to learn ways to keep the open communication with Julio and his younger brother, Fernando. “Julio confides in us and I hope it keeps on like that. I’m very proud of him.”
It took an eye-opening leadership development program for Ana to realize the next level of how she could become more involved in her community. She enrolled in the Hispanic Leadership Institute-Pinal (HLI-Pinal) inaugural class to learn how to improve her leadership skills. HLI-Pinal provided a network of resources for advocacy on leadership issues that affect the Latino community and Pinal County.
With the skills and tools she acquired through HLI-Pinal, Ana turned her attention to a local effort to bring positive Latino celebrations to the community. “HLI-Pinal helped me to see the strengths and values I have just from being a Latina,” Ana says. “That has played a huge part in me wanting to get out there and strive for bigger goals.”
The area senior community also is benefiting from the leadership skills she developed from participating in HLI-Pinal. “I’ve always been a big supporter of the seniors in our community,” said Ana. When the senior center was moved from downtown Eloy, she noticed a drop in Latino participation. Now, newly elected to the senior center’s board, “I try to see how we can involve more of the Latino senior population.”
The HLI-Pinal program has empowered Ana to be a change-maker in her community. “I was able to understand the importance of my participation on different boards and commissions, they really emphasized that,” she says. “Being involved and improving the services in the Latino community — to be a voice and an advocate — is important to me.”
In her early 40s, Janine was married with two small children. She had been using drugs since she was 10. “I was going out of my mind,” Janine recalled. “I walked into the doctor’s office, crying, and said, “I can’t do this anymore. I’m so tired.” Her doctor suggested Valle del Sol’s Adult Services program. Janine called and made an appointment.
It wasn’t until Janine went through Valle del Sol’s program that she realized, “You have to deal with all the stuff you’ve done for the last 30 years in your life. Valle del Sol was my savior,” she says earnestly. “When you’re chasing a drug+you can’t live life, you can’t do anything. The only thing that was important to me was to get high.”
Janine began treatment and received individual and group counseling. “At Valle del Sol, they care about you+they don’t look down at you,” she says. “They really understand.” Janine said she started getting a handle on her life. “I never realized how muddled it could be when I was using. They gave me time to be sane. That is the biggest thing, to get your mind back again.”
Today, Janine is living a healthier lifestyle. She says her children appreciate the changes she’s made in her life. Most importantly, Janine loves herself for who she is today and embraces life. “Valle del Sol saved my life,” she said.
Valle del Sol’s Adult Services program inspires positive change through its counseling, substance abuse treatment, and behavioral health services.
Inside Felipe’s apartment, photos of his daughter hang on the walls, her toys are neatly stacked in the corner near her crib and her stroller sits ready to go by the door. It is a typical scene you would find in any home with a new baby. But the one thing that has been missing for nearly a year is Felipe’s daughter, Mariana. Felipe’s family was torn apart just a month after his daughter was born. His girlfriend, the baby’s mother, was abusing drugs. After Child Protective Services got involved his daughter was placed in foster care. Felipe knew he had to make a choice between his girlfriend, who continued to use drugs, or his daughter. “My daughter has to be my first responsibility,” he says and adds that any sacrifice is worth it.
Felipe was referred to Valle del Sol’s Family Services program by Child Protective Services. He began working with a parent aide to learn the skills necessary to reunite him with his daughter. “I’ve received not only help learning basic infant care skills like feeding and diapering, but also emotional support from my parent aide,” Felipe says. “He has helped me a lot to learn about how to be a better father.” While Felipe is hopeful that he will soon regain custody of his daughter, it is clear that he is filled with emotion as he talks of his daughter and how he misses her smile in-between weekly visits.
Felipe says making the commitment to do what he must to be reunited with his daughter has not been easy. “It’s a lot of work but you do it for your family,” Felipe says. Now that his daughter is a year old he says he has prepared himself and his home for her. “She’s walking now, I have to watch her carefully because she goes everywhere,” he says with a smile as he thinks of his little girl.
Teenagers are typically full of life, anxious to experience high school, vibrant with energy. Sara, 15, knew only fatigue and depression. Just waking up was a tremendous struggle for her. Her mother, LuAnn, was very worried. Then, a troubling diagnosis was given. “She came down with Epstein-Barre and Valley fever,” LuAnn said. “She slept a lot.” Her immunity system was nearly defenseless. Depression plagued her.
Sara’s future appeared bleak, but her mother wasn’t going to give up. LuAnn was familiar with Valle del Sol and believed their Youth Services program could help. “Youth Services put her with a great counselor who could really communicate with her,” LuAnn said. Sara learned techniques for dealing with depression. After a year in the program, LuAnn says life and activity has picked up for her daughter. “She looks forward to dating…and going out,” her mother said.
Through her experience with Youth Services, Sara has helped other teens. LuAnn is happy to see her daughter make progress. Soon, Sara will be starting classes at Job Corps, where she’ll take a course in business management and culinary arts classes. Six months ago, she wouldn’t have thought it was possible. Sara is proud of her progress. The help Youth Services gave her, “made my life better,” she says.
TIEMPO DE ORO
Her clean, pressed clothing, neatly pinned back hair and quiet laughter make it hard to imagine that Carla’s life two years ago was so different than it is now. Most days, she felt crushed by grief and dark thoughts. She had no energy. She felt depressed and alone. “I wondered if she was losing her interest in living,” said her husband Santiago.
Then Carla learned of Tiempo de Oro, a special program for older adults offered through Valle del Sol. With Tiempo de Oro’s help, Carla was able to express her feelings and problems and learned how to deal with her depression. She learned techniques to help her get through her day and to communicate with other seniors without negativity. She learned crucial information about how to take care of her health. She found that she was not alone. “I owe my life to the program,” she says.
Most importantly, she’s learned to cope with problems. Santiago has seen a great change in her. “She has so much strength,” he said. Carla attributes this to what she learned through Tiempo de Oro. “It helped me when I needed it the most,” she said.
COMMUNITY NOISE REDUCTION PROGRAM
Change can be unsettling for most of us, and when it involves moving from one’s home, it can be nerve-racking. Jessie, whose home was in an area where the City of Phoenix and Sky Harbor International Airport were offering a voluntary relocation program as part of a Community Noise Reduction Program (CNRP), helped with the program. “There was a lot of information to absorb before one could make an intelligent decision about moving,” Jessie recalled.
Valle del Sol started working with the CNRP program to provide customer services and support for CNRP area residents and program participants. “It’s a godsend that Valle del Sol was the one that got the contract,” she says. “Valle del Sol provides the case workers, and they go the extra mile.” She witnessed this valuable assistance firsthand. “Valle del Sol has heart. They’re really out here,” she says with admiration. “There’s not one person who is not receiving all the information, help and guidance that they need from Valle del Sol.”
Eventually she decided to take the moving package herself, and felt fortunate to move into a four-bedroom home. “The city helps to better (the residents’) lives,” Jessie says, adding that working with Valle del Sol has made relocation much easier. “They lighten the load to the best of their ability and they’ve done it over and over,” the 72-year-old said. “There’s not one spirit that Valle del Sol hasn’t touched in this program. It’s…a win-win situation.”
HISPANIC LEADERSHIP INSTITUTE
Ike wanted to be a leader in the Latino community. Training through Valle del Sol’s Hispanic Leadership Institute (HLI) helped him achieve his goals.
When Ike was a senior business analyst for American Express, he wanted to form a national Hispanic network in American Express. American Express is a strong champion of diversity and community support,” Ike said. “I found other individuals (from the company) in New York who also wanted to start a Hispanic network. So we began at a national level.”
“I had no formal training in diversity,” Ike said. “This was a big challenge for me.” A colleague suggested Ike apply for Valle del Sol’s Hispanic Leadership Institute. He wanted to be more engaged in diversity and involved in the community — as a leader.
Through HLI, Ike discovered the strengths of his leadership abilities. “I have the skills,” he said. “I just needed to learn how to refine them and apply them to my professional life. HLI is a great springboard to help achieve your goals from both personal and professional aspects.”
Sometimes, all it takes is an opportunity to learn how to be a leader. Such was the case with Jason, a teacher at Estrella Mountain Community College in the West Valley. The propensity to build bridges between people is one reason he was excited to hear about Valle del Sol’s Hispanic Leadership Institute-West (HLI-West).
“It sounded like an incredible opportunity to meet other Latinos who are doing positive things,” said Jason. As a graduate of HLI-West’s inaugural program, Jason has been able to take what he learned and apply it to various aspects in his life. “I’ve actually been able to network far beyond campus to work on specific Latino events in the West Valley,” Jason says, adding a Latino cultural arts series for the West Valley is now in development. He says HLI-West taught him how to influence positive change as well as offering him access to resources in the Valley.
Through HLI-West, Jason was able to connect with the Governor’s office and now is serving as a member of the Arizona Civil Rights Advisory Board. As an HLI-West graduate, Jason is happy he was given the chance to attend this leadership program and is eager to see others develop their potential. “It was really a confidence builder,” Jason concluded. “I’m already recruiting people for the next session!”
BECOME A VOLUNTEER
When Angela became involved with Valle de Sol, she didn’t realize she would discover her own special way to contribute. While receiving leadership training at Valle del Sol’s Hispanic Leadership Institute, Angela learned more about Valle del Sol and its many programs and services. She quickly came to respect the work the agency does in the community and began to think of how she might help.
One of Valle del Sol’s staff recognized Angela’s technical talents and asked if she would be interested in helping with the high-tech aspects of the agency’s largest fundraiser, Profiles of Success, an annual celebration recognizing those who make a difference. Angela knew this was a perfect chance to help. She used her talents to develop a special presentation for the event. “I did a lot of photo cleanup and then did a cut of music,” Angela said. “There were about three to five songs where I took portions of the songs and mixed them together.” Mixing music had been a pastime of hers for a long time.
Angela worked hard on the Profiles of Success production. The result brought the presentation to a more sophisticated level, which was noticed by those who participated. She felt good about getting involved and sharing her skills with Valle del Sol. “It gives me an opportunity to really use skills that I don’t get to use every day,” she says with enthusiasm. “It feels good to do something. I had a gift and it felt good to use it for someone else.”
José and Francis
PROFILES OF SUCCESS
Special people, the kind who go out of their way to help others, deserve unique recognition. Take, for example, Dr. José and Frances Burruel. “You know, you do things, not because you’re going to get an award, you do it because it’s the right thing to do,” José says. “You’re helping someone out of a situation, that you feel it’s going to better their lives.”
José and Frances are known for their helpfulness throughout the Valley of the Sun, and beyond.
“Humanitarian work is not like running a race, or making a baseball team,” José said. “It’s way different when you go out and help others. It’s an exhilarating feeling.” The Burruels often have stepped forward to speak up for civil rights issues and improving the lives of those in need.
Valle del Sol recognized José and Frances during its 15th annual Profiles of Success celebration. “We were honored, celebration. “We were honored, thrilled, and surprised,” Frances said. “It made us feel especially good, coming from Valle del Sol. We hold the organization in very high regard. It was very extra special, very humbling.”
“We’re going to continue doing what we’re doing, because we love helping people,” José said. “And that’s what Valle del Sol does.”