For some, a job is just a job. For Lizette Chavez, her work is something more, it’s a vocation.
Lizette is the bi-lingual coordinator of Spark the Change Colorado’s Mental Wellness Program. Her position is made possible thanks to The Caring for Denver Foundation. The grant’s purpose is to increase capacity and devise supports for our volunteer mental health practitioners to serve greater numbers and a greater diversity of disadvantaged Coloradans, particularly Spanish-speaking and underrepresented Denverites.
Having grown up in a bi-lingual setting, Lizette understands both the need for specialized mental health services and the barriers felt by the communities. Barriers include cost, social stigma, language, and hesitancy due to embarrassment.
Part of Lizette’s passion for the job is that she herself hopes to become a mental health professional one day.
She graduated from CU Boulder in May with a degree in Psychology and Leadership. And being especially close to her 13-year-old sister, she has seen firsthand how hard it has been for young people to cope with the isolation of COVID. She also both participated in the Pre-Collegiate Development Program in Denver, then, as a student at CU, served as a counselor. The program prepares first-generation and marginalized middle and high school students for higher education. And it’s clear, Lizette passed with flying colors.
“People have told me I’m a good listener, and that I know how to ground people,” she said.
But before she heads off to graduate school in the future, her goal is to recruit approximately 5 or more LGBTQ+ identifying and affirming, 5 BIPOC identifying, and 5 bilingual volunteer mental health professionals offering free services throughout Colorado by the Spark the Change Colorado’s Mental Wellness Program.
It’s a daunting task. Because of COVID, Lizette has had to recruit bi-lingual mental health providers through emails and phone calls. And given the great need for services, most providers are at capacity. Nevertheless, Lizette and Spark are committed to building a more robust mental health program for bilingual and other historically underrepresented identities such as BIPOC, LGBTQ, and women.
Lizette is also organizing continuing education sessions for therapists, some focusing on tools for anxiety, for example. A primary charge is to equip our Mental Wellness Volunteers with information to better serve our communities.
If you or anyone you know can volunteer to provide mental health services to underserved populations, please contact Lizette at LChavez@sparkthechangecolorado.org. Visit our website to learn more about requirements and benefits.
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