ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – An outpatient behavioral health clinic that originated in the South Valley is working to fight the language barrier, and provide mental health resources to the Spanish-speaking population. Centro Savila provides therapy and counseling services for bilingual youth, adults, and families.

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Years ago, the organization started out with one licensed clinician and a few case managers. People told their executive director the organization didn’t stand a chance, that Spanish-speakers were less likely to go to therapy. Now, as their 10-year anniversary draws nearer, the organization has expanded to having 30 employees and covers the South Valley, the International District, and the North Valley.

Finance Director Guiovanna Aguirre said their staff has first-hand experience with some of the barriers their clients face. “Mental health services within itself is hard to access within our state, and then you add a language barrier for the Spanish speaking population so we are privileged to have very seasoned, experienced staff that had been working in the community for a long time, who also live in the community that we’re serving,” Aguirre said.

To kick off the new year, Centro Savila is gearing up to provide virtual cooking classes to help families learn important life skills. Critical Time Intervention case manager, Espoir Hiester, said beginning in February, Centro Savila and Three Sisters Kitchen will provide a 13-week virtual cooking program and meal kits.

“The big inspiration behind this is to provide skills as far as learning how to hold a knife when cooking properly, learning how to have access to fresh, local ingredients to provide nutritious, healthy, and balanced meals for themselves, and learning alongside with their family to cook,” Hiester said.

Families who sign up for the program will get cooking kits every other week with everything that is needed for two meals. Families will receive a Zoom link for the cooking class, which will take place every Thursday evening. The cooking class kits will be distributed on Wednesdays at Centro Savila office locations.