Luz del Corazón

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Luz del Coraz�n is a new outreach program providing grief support to Spanish-speaking children and families. Lisa Schmitt, director for the New Song Center for Grieving Children, a program of Hospice of the Valley, and Anabell Castro-Thompson, nurse practitioner and director of Hospice of the Valley’s Hispanic program, discuss the details.

Jose Cardenas: Luz Del Corazon -- here to talk about this program is Lisa Schmitt, and Anabell Castro-Thompson, nurse practitioner and director of Hospice of the Valley's Hispanic program. Thank you for joining us this evening. This is as we indicated an outgrowth of an existing program as the New Song center. Tell us about that.

Lisa Schmitt: It has been around for 26 years in our community for all but the last one year we were the only grief support program offered that focuses on the unique needs of children and families in all of Maricopa County. And for merely all of those 25, 26 years, it has been a dream and vision of New Song to try to develop a program that could serve the needs of our Hispanic population, whose first language is Spanish so that they would be allowed to process their grief issues in their native tongue.

Jose Cardenas: Anabell, that is something that you have been working on for a number of years with Hospice of the Valley. Tell us a little about what you have been doing, and this program, principally Lisa's focus, but you're involved in it to, how it would help the situation.

Anabell Castro-Thompson: We see that the Hispanic community is very diverse. We have people who are primarily Spanish speaking. We have people who are a little more assimilated, more acculturated; their language ability is a little different or more advanced. The challenge here is how do you serve the Hispanic community? You do it culturally appropriate, linguistically appropriate, and I think that is one of the things that we can accomplish with the program. Hospice of the Valley, I have been doing a lot of that. When we expand programs to the Hispanic community, it is culturally and linguistically appropriate.

Jose Cardenas: This is funded by New York Life, is that right?

Lisa Schmitt: New York Life Foundation.

Jose Cardenas: What are they trying to accomplish with this?

Lisa Schmitt: They recognized that there are underserved populations throughout our country and so they have spent millions of dollars in grant funding to agencies like New Song in other parts of the country to focus on those populations who otherwise have very, very limited resources. When you think about it, here in Maricopa County, over 25,000 Hispanic children who are actively grieving the death of a significant person, a mom, dad, brother, sister, and when you look at what resources would be available to these families, apart from private therapists or professional counselors, which can be very, very expensive and require insurance and that sort of thing, there are no other resources available for these families to access. To provide them an and safe and supportive environment where they can address the issues of grief and loss they are experiencing at alarming rates.

Jose Cardenas: Anabell, why aren't the members of the Hispanic community availing themselves to these services which are offered, relatively inexpensively, to them? Why isn't there greater participation?

Anabell Castro-Thompson: I think it is because it's challenging to put forth a program. Many times. It's very time consuming. Us, ourselves, it has required about a year for us to develop this program, to make sure we have an infrastructure within the community to support the needs of the Hispanic community.

Jose Cardenas: Cultural issues that maybe make the Hispanic community less likely to take advantage of these services?

Anabell Castro-Thompson: Absolutely.

Jose Cardenas: What would those be?

Anabell Castro-Thompson: For example, many times men in the Hispanic community because of machismo are told that it is not appropriate for them to grieve or to show grief and loss. And when that happens, how are you teaching your children or how are you going to prepare them to grieve or process grief and get to a healing stage if you, yourself, are unsure as to how to grieve or how to model behavior for your children? I think one of the biggest challenges when you develop a program for the Hispanic community is that you don't just take the information that you have in English, you translate it and you deliver it. You have to make sure that you do it in -- quality driven indicators to ensure that the community is going to embrace it, both so that they attend and so that we have the volunteers that are required for the program.

Jose Cardenas: Almost out of time. How can people get more information about the program?

Lisa Schmitt: They can call Hospice of the Valley or New Song center directly -- they can go on the web site, I think you have the web site on the screen that people can access. But we have a Spanish language line --

Jose Cardenas: There is a way --

Lisa Schmitt: Absolutely.

Jose Cardenas: Thank you both for joining us on "Horizonte" to talk about it. That is our show tonight. Thank you for watching. For all of us here on "Horizonte," I'm Jose Cardenas. Have a good evening.

Video: "Horizonte" is made possible by contributions from the friends of Arizona PBS, members of your PBS station. Thank you. Captioning Performed by LNS Captioning www.lnscaptioning.com

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