In our Proyecto Cuídate community wellness and safety programs, we help individuals and families heal following trauma. Through counseling, case management, support services, and restorative practices, we build stronger, healthier families and communities.

In the midst of a pandemic with devastating effects on already at-risk communities, these services are critically important. So, the Proyecto Cuídate team has been hard at work providing one-on-one counseling through teletherapy and virtual support groups for youth to help our participants and clients navigate a stressful and traumatic time.

Creating Virtual Safe Spaces for Youth During School Closures

Solomon Martinez, Proyecto Cuídate Youth Program Manager, and his team work to build resilience in the Little Village community by creating spaces for youth to be completely who they are. During this time when creating these spaces through in-person contact is not possible, they’ve transitioned these programs to group Zoom meetings three days per week, and virtual attendance continues to go up as time goes on.

In these groups, the students participate in activities like virtual tours, games, art projects, and social media events to connect with one another. They also have the opportunity to get support and think about things other than feeling isolated at home during the pandemic.

“It’s beautiful to see the way people connect with one another even as they are struggling.”

Solomon Martinez

In addition to job loss and economic difficulties, increased violence is unfortunately a challenge that our communities are also currently facing. Following a recent homicide in Little Village of an individual who was a friend of some of our youth, our team has done what we can to be there for them through the healing and grieving process, even though this is a challenge when only video and voice calls are available.

Processing Collective Trauma

Mariana Martinez, Supervising Clinician, has been working with her clients to understand and process the trauma and anxiety of the environment we all live in today. “It’s important to highlight the level of anxiety that is not only in the person, but in the environment as a whole. Even if you try not to have those anxious thoughts, it’s everywhere and it gets picked up,” Martinez said.

She noted that, for example, some of the teenagers she works with are struggling with finding motivation to continue to actively engage with their schoolwork. Martinez works with her clients of all ages to try to address those feelings, while also acknowledging that, for many, their counseling goals have shifted and their primary concern in this time is theirs and their family’s survival.

Connecting Our Community with Resources

Through all of this, the Proyecto Cuídate team is working connect clients of all ages to direct assistance to support them and provide any resources they need during this time.

Community Resource Coordinator Erika Flores has personally reached out to many participants. She notes that many of them are struggling with financial difficulties as well as anxiety and depression during this time. She provides advice and information on how to access resources. Sometimes, the people she talks to are looking for help for not only themselves, but their own friends and loved ones.

Proyecto Cuídate’s Jocelyn Sifuentes compiled a comprehensive resource document to share with participants, including information on acquiring assistance with food, rent, and utilities, support for families and children, important health information, and how to access Erie House-specific services and relief including the Community Relief Fund to help during this time. These resources are now available on the Erie House website and are regularly shared with participants.

“It’s nice to see the amount of teamwork we’re all putting in from all parts of Erie in this moment. The organization is very family-oriented and constructed in a way that we all work together.”

Erika Flores

And through everything, the team is aware of the importance of their own self-care during this time. The Erie House team as a whole has also been supported by Proyecto Cuídate team with resources to manage stress and anxiety during the pandemic.

“I feel good about how we’re being thoughtful about what we can do during this time. I know that my team feels supported as we come together to be intentional and reflect on how we can help.”

Rosa Sanchez Totochenko, Proyecto Cuídate Director

Keep following our blog or sign up for our newsletter at the bottom of this page to stay in the know about how the Erie House team is going above and beyond to support our community during the COVID-19 crisis.

You can also learn more about our response to the coronavirus pandemic and access additional resources at eriehouse.org/covid19.