Esperanza para Berks Brings Together the Latino Community

Over 50 people gathered on Sunday, November 12, 2017 for a program entirely in Spanish to discuss “Addiction & the family.” This was the second gathering of the program, entitled Esperanza para Berks. The event was created to provide information and resources related to addiction to the Spanish-speaking population of Berks County.

“Just like we see all over the country – many times there is a lot of shame associated with a family member’s addiction.  The difference here is that the population in Reading is primarily Spanish speaking and due to that there are specific needs,” said Jobany Bedoya, Small Business and Latino Outreach Coordinator for the Greater Reading Chamber Alliance. Bedoya is the event committee chair, as well as, a Board Member of the Council on Chemical Abuse.

The November 12 event included a keynote presentation, a personal recovery story, and a panel discussion. The keynote speaker, Dr. Paula Sanchez is a licensed professional counselor. Her practice has specialized in the delivery of substance use and mental health treatment from a cultural perspective. Dr. Sanchez keynote address focused on how addiction affects a family.

Jose “Tony” Candelario shared his experience of coming into recovery after decades of drug use, and how it affected him and his family. Tony currently is very involved with his church and works as a drug & alcohol counselor in Berks County.

Attendees had the opportunity to present their questions to Sanchez, Candelario, and a panel of drug and alcohol professionals. The panelists included Marcia Garcia from Treatment Access and Services Center (TASC), Juan Ramirez from PA Counseling, Ricardo Jarquin who talked about Spanish help groups, Marlene Lopez from Children & Youth Services, and Rev. Ferdinand Vargas from Iglesia Nueva Esperanza, Inc.

Discussion included information about drug & alcohol treatment services available for Spanish-speaking clients, family support and information about Family Group Decision Making, FGDM, a program offered through Children Youth & Services.

This event was the second of its kind. The first Esperanza para Berks was held in October of 2016, with a focus on addiction as a brain disease. Since that first event, the YMCA of Reading & Berks County opened their first housing option for Spanish-speaking only clients. For more information about Spanish speaking services in Berks, CLICK HERE to download a guide to COCA-partnered organizations.

Esperanza para Berks is a unique program, and it’s changing the atmosphere of our community as we discuss the needs of the Latino population in Berks,” said Bedoya.