Adelante — Helping community members move forward with their lives
VALLEY– Many families and individuals benefit from a local program called Adelante. For the past 10 years, employees at San Luis Valley Health have adopted some of the families at Christmas, fulfilling their wish lists and adding gift, gas, and grocery cards.
The children’s gifts are not wrapped by SLV Health. Each adult guardian along with staff, wrap gifts for their children at the office. The staff wraps the adults’ gifts, so everyone gets the chance to open gifts on the special holiday. SLV Health also donates wrapping paper and gift bags. The huge undertaking is orchestrated by clinic leadership, including Administrator Antonio Gurule and Clinic Admin Assistant Ressa Gonzales.
Many of the adults do not ask for gifts for themselves, often asking for practical help such as cleaning supplies or clothes for their children. They are prompted to develop a gift-wish-list for the excited shoppers in the community. Mountain West Insurance and other individual community donors adopt other Adelante individual clients. Several days before Christmas, the Adelante office turns into a regular “Santa’s workshop.”
Adelante Director Tara Bay and Assistant Director Jamie Snow sat down with SLVH Communications Director Donna Wehe to talk about their programs and their families.
“Transitional housing has grown into supportive housing,” commented Bay. The programs and services at Adelante have changed through the years as well. Bay has been with Adelante for over eight years and knows exactly what program, grant, or resource best benefits their clients.
“Our program has been modeled around the state and the region,” Bay said. “We are involved as advocates, from the court room to the bank. We assist our clients with access to resources because getting your life back on track is full of roadblocks for a lot of people.”
She explained how one client enrolled as a full-time student only to find out that she would lose access to her food benefits, which would not work in her situation due to having young children.
“We are not here to give handouts; but to educate, remove barriers, support, and assist those who are ready to move forward with their lives,” commented Snow, who has been with Adelante for seven years. When clients first get referred to Adelante, they sometimes ask about the resources that might be available.
But Snow likes to turn the question back to them, asking, “What do you want? What do you need help with?”
After building trust, the staff at Adelante often form close, personal bonds with their clients.
“But we do not want to be their only resource. We are not their friend or emergency contact. We are their advocate, their guide, their coach, their teacher,” added Snow.
Often families and individuals fall between the cracks, meaning there are government or non-profit resources available; but navigating the roadmap can be daunting if they try to do it by themselves. For example, Adelante conducts home visits, helps individuals map out their goals, helps with transportation, and assists with applying for benefits such as Medicaid.
As the clients become stable and self-sufficient, they often lose access to safety net programs, so again, Adelante is there to help them through that time of transition with their many tools and resources.
They operate under the Building a Family’s Five Protective Factors, which guides their work:
- Parental Resilience
- Knowledge of Parenting and Child Development
- Children’s Social and Emotional Competence
- Concrete Supports in Time of Need
- Social Connections
Some of their other guiding principles, explained Bay and Snow, are “nothing about me without me,” so that each decision is based on the client’s expectations. They use the “Housing First” model and like to shift the focus to “what are your strengths as an individual” rather than “what’s wrong with you.”
In closing, both Bay and Snow emphasized their gratitude for the community partners, as it takes a whole village to make the village whole again.
For more information about Adelante, visit their website at https://lapuentehome.org/adelante/.