WILMINGTON — “Amanecer” is a Spanish verb that roughly translates to “to have light” or “to wake up.” In Wilmington, the Amanecer advice and resource center attempts to shed light on the need for mental health resources, especially for the Hispanic population in the city and state.
Previously, the Family Counseling Center of From St Paul, Amanecer dedicated its new building and celebrated its new identity a few months ago on the birthday of its founder, Franciscan Sister Theresa Elitz. The counseling center, established in 2003, moved into a house at Third and Van Buren streets purchased from the Holy Name Province of the Franciscan Friars, which occupied St. Paul’s staff for nearly three decades before leaving.
Rob McCreary, the executive director, said the center needed more space than it had at St. Paul’s Rectory, where clients were served in two offices while parish business went on. around them. Today, one of the problems that Amanecer is trying to address is the shortage of advisors to serve a growing clientele.
McCreary said there are about 26 bilingual counselors in Delaware to cover the three counties, either as part of an agency or working individually. There are nearly 100,000 Hispanics in the state, and a third of them are not fluent in English.
“There is too much need,” he said. “There is too much demand.
To remedy this, Amanecer is trying to increase its workforce. McCreary said there is currently an opening for a Resource Care Coordinator, someone to welcome new clients and guide them through the process. They have opportunities for people with different experience and education levels.
“What we’re trying to do is increase the pool of bilingual (Spanish-speaking) and culturally sensitive professionals,” he said.
Amanecer offers sessions in its offices and via telehealth. In addition to counseling, it offers resources such as cultural responsiveness, trauma-informed care, and outpatient resource navigation, as well as direct assistance with rent, utilities, and more. Many of her clients are first or second generation immigrants.
“The main thing is to connect them to resources that they don’t know how to access,” he said.
The Outpatient Therapy Program focuses on improving access for the uninsured and underinsured to licensed, bilingual, and culturally appropriate behavioral health care. The need for such services has only increased during the coronavirus pandemic.
Amanecer has partnered with other Delaware social service agencies and with Delaware State and other colleges and universities in hopes of recruiting, training, and increasing the number of bilingual counselors. It offers internship hours for undergraduate and graduate students and will train them while they work towards obtaining their state license as behavioral health therapists.
The move to their new home, across from St. Paul’s, was significant. At the parsonage, Sister Theresa and her staff were trying to serve about 300 clients. He served — and continues to serve — people from all over New Castle County and as far away as Laurel, McCreary said.
The Family Counseling Center briefly moved to another building on South Harrison Street owned by the Delaware Community Reinvestment Action Board, which teaches financial literacy to much of the same population. McCreary approached the Franciscans to acquire the Van Buren Street property. The fall celebration was a combination of recognizing Sister Theresa’s vision and accomplishments, celebrating her birthday, and moving into a “welcoming and safe new home and in their neighborhood,” McCreary said. .
According to a plan outlined by McCreary, Amanecer’s mission is “to see Latinos heal, grow, and thrive by providing behavioral health and resources that empower individuals and families.”
“That’s the journey we’ve been on, and that’s important, but it’s the journey of our customers that matters most,” he said.