Teaming up for the community
Valencia Community for Change, located in Los Lunas, has teamed up with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central New Mexico to help improve the lives of Valencia County’s children.
VCC, owned by Christina Mares, former director of Valencia Shelter Services, provides a safe, neutral environment for supervised visits and exchange programs for parents who can’t or choose not to see one another due to a divorce or restraining order.
The site is also the satellite office for Jim Hatfield, owner of Central New Mexico Counseling and former executive director at Valencia County Shelter Services. Therapy services provided include individual, child, adolescent, family, group and re-integration.
The business is also beginning parenting classes and classes for the elderly to help them plan their lives after leaving an abusive relationship. Other services that are provided include civil advocacy to help underprivileged individuals who cannot afford an attorney.
Mares says they often see elderly individuals who are seeking help after leaving an abusive relationship and need help legally as well as how to survive outside the relationship.
“We help them with resources to put their lives back together and to help them survive,” says Mares.
But, she says, children are their primary demographic, which is why Mares says she decided to provide free office space to BBBS.
“I thought that would be a good collaboration, because we’re always working with children and juveniles and thought they could work together to help the juveniles in the county.”
BBBS has moved into its office at 431 Luna Ave. and is ready to begin serving the children of Valencia County, says Virginia Graumann, senior outreach coordinator for Valencia County.
In February, BBBS received a grant from City Bank for $20,000 to establish a program in Valencia County. BBBS is the nation’s largest donor and volunteer-supported mentoring organization, offering community-based and site-based mentoring programs.
“Our goal is to mentor at least 25 kids in Valencia County,” says Graumann.
So far they have matched 10 children with mentors in their site-based program through Belen Schools, but she says more volunteers, particularly males, are needed.
Sharing a location with VCC and Central New Mexico Counseling’s satellite office is an “idea partnership,” says Graumann.
“Some of the families that come for counseling might be able to benefit from Big Brothers Big Sisters,” she said. “It’s a natural connection. It’s important to work with other entities that are working with families.”
“We’re excited about collaborating together to provide these services to the community,” Hatfield said.
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