In September 2017, the effects of Hurricane Maria were catastrophic, and affected thousands of unsuspecting Puerto Rican residents. In wake of this deadly storm, many sought refuge in other areas including the Philadelphia region.
Embracing the call to be servant leaders within the community, Casa del Carmen granted requests for assistance from a significant number of Puerto Rican evacuees, many of whom were suffering with physical and emotional distress.
For over six decades, Casa del Carmen Family Service Center, a ministry of Catholic Social Services (CSS) of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, has provided vital services to the Latino community in the Hunting Park section of North Philadelphia.
In January 2018, with an increase in demand for services and assistance with shelter, Casa del Carmen became a lead front door agency with the newly formed Greater Philadelphia Long Term Recovery Committee. Through this committee, a heightened awareness of other health and social disparities affecting the Latino community emerged including the emotional wellbeing of those who have experienced traumatic events.
Casa del Carmen has embraced a new initiative to further assist the Latino and immigrant communities to connect to valuable mental healthcare services.
Since that time, access to mental health services has been key for individuals and families served by Casa del Carmen that are living with emotional trauma. Yet, despite having numerous services in place, what happens to the other thousands of Latino individuals who are not aware of the wealth of supportive services in the Greater Philadelphia region?
Thanks to a recent grant from Thomas Jefferson University and the Philadelphia Collaborative for Health Equity (P-CHE), Casa del Carmen has embraced a new initiative to further assist the Latino and immigrant communities to connect to valuable mental healthcare services.
The funded program, Recupere Su Felicidad (Recover your Happiness) aims to add more culturally and linguistically appropriate mental health workshops to Casa del Carmen’s existing prevention and intervention programming, as well as information and referral treatment services for all clients that need access to care.
In addition, through the distribution of nearly 20,000 informational postcards, Casa del Carmen hopes to connect even more individuals seeking mental health services across the five-county metropolitan area comprising the Archdiocese to CSS’ referral and information “Help Line” which is housed at Casa del Carmen. Each year, qualified “Help Line” staff provide help and create hope for more than 5,000 callers.
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Since 1954, Casa del Carmen has been committed to strengthening families and building up communities. By implementing this new initiative, Recupere Su Felicidad (Recover your Happiness) will not only improve access to care for our Latino and immigrant brothers and sisters, but ultimately, improve the health and wellness of all across the region.
Casa del Carmen offers counseling and family support services with bilingual therapists and case managers, summer camp programs, after-school academic enrichment and recreational opportunities for local youth — all guided by a Two-Generation approach to well-being. In addition to these services, Casa administers Casa del Carmen Preschool Academy which provides nearly 81 students with affordable, quality child care in a safe and loving educational environment.
When individuals and families enter the CSS network, culturally and linguistically appropriate services are a crucial factor in the service delivery to clients. Last year, Casa del Carmen served approximately 20,000 individuals in need across the City of Philadelphia through trauma-informed care, community outreach, information and referral services, and on and off site support services. Examples of those services include food, clothing, and diaper pantries; nutrition classes; emergency assistance; emergency food shelter programs; workshops on health and well-being; pregnancy services; financial coaching and literacy; document assistance; a “Help Line” to community resources, and more.
These services, which advance CSS’ mission to “Transform lives and bring about a just and compassionate society where every individual is valued, families are healthy and strong, and communities are united in their commitment to the good of all,” provide necessary support for individuals and families, single parents, elderly, pregnant women in crisis, veterans, the un- and underemployed, and those experiencing homelessness.
For information regarding programs offered by CSS and Casa del Carmen, please contact the CSS Helpline at (267) 331-2490 or email CSSHelp@chs-adphila.org.-30-
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