PUENTES: Building Bridges to Stronger Mental Health
According to the 2020 U.S. Census figures analyzed by LoHud/The Journal News, the number of Latino/a people living in Rockland County has increased by more than a third since 2010. According to this data, Rockland is home to 66,451 Latino/a, an increase of 17,667 people who share this proud heritage.
To put this in perspective, consider that Rockland’s overall population from 2010 to 2020 increased by 26,644 people, to a new total of 338,329. Growth of the County’s Latino/a population accounted for about two-thirds of Rockland’s entire population growth from 2010 to 2020.
At the moment, Rockland’s Latino/a population makes up about 20% of the County’s entire population. This growth is reflected nationwide. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the Latino/a population was 62.1 million in 2020, having grown by 23% since 2010.
All of this illustrates the urgent need to provide counseling and mental health services specifically for Rockland County’s Latino/a population and those who speak Spanish exclusively. The Census data also speaks to the foresight of New City-based mental health organization VCS, and its swift response as it continuously pivots to meet the ever-changing needs of this community.
On April 26, 2018 VCS launched PUENTES in an effort to always stay ahead of the curve when it comes to mental health support and counseling services. “PUENTES” is the Spanish word for ‘bridges,’ reads vcs-inc.org/puentes. “Bridges connect people. Spanish speaking clients can connect with the many services of VCS. It is now possible to receive counseling and connect to other programs at VCS completely in Spanish.”
On October 7, VCS will hold a special event to celebrate the achievements of PUENTES and the manner in which Rockland’s Latino/a community makes the County a more diverse and inclusive place to live. “The 3rd Annual PUENTES Celebration: Celebrating VCS Services in Spanish” is set for 6 p.m. on October 7 at Town & Country Caterers in Congers. The evening will include complimentary beer and wine; a cash bar; dinner; dessert; and entertainment from DJ Ivan Arroyo. Click here to purchase tickets to this event, and become a sponsor.
Along with all the fun in a celebratory tone, this evening, in honor of PUENTES, will serve as a reminder of this program’s important mission. “PUENTES creates a safe and confidential space where you will receive aid according to your personal family needs,” reads the VCS website. “The goal is to live fully and improve your emotional health. We know how important it is to speak to someone that can relate to you. Our counselors represent a wide mix of countries and cultures, making it easier to connect with you.”
All of this speaks to the wider VCS mission, and the work this organization engages in each day as it strengthens the community’s support system for mental health and increased quality of life. VCS also plays a pivotal role as we all work to ensure a fair and just social system. “VCS saves lives every day,” reads the organization’s website, “by providing counseling services and mental health treatment with an anti-racist, social justice mission.”
To learn more about PUENTES and avail yourself of its services, please call Azu Nieves for an appointment, at 845-634-5729, ext. 329. You can also learn more at vcs-inc.org/puentes.