If it’s 9:30 am on a Wednesday, it’s likely you know where to find Clinician Luis Fernandez-Castro. He’s in our 3rd floor conference room facilitating our long-standing Latino Support group.
About the Latino Support Group
Part of our Clinical and Recovery team, Luis has been leading the group for over 18 years now and came to the group early in its inception in 2000. Working alongside fellow staff member Michelle Torres, the Latino Support Group started as a place where many Cuban immigrants from the Mariel boatlift of 1980, along with other Latinos suffering of substance abuse and mental health disorders, could work in achieving sobriety and recovery in order to have a better life, a life with dignity as well in how to fit into the American system.
Latino Support Group focus and goals
The meetings focus on education, support, and providing tools for sobriety and recovery. Luis who is CADAC certified also serves as the group moderator. “There are only two rules: you cannot be intoxicated, and we do not allow arguing during the conversation time.” The group is one of the longest running at St. Francis House and ranges in size each week from 8-12 participants.
Focused entirely “en Español” the one and a half hour meetings consist of members engaged around a communal table and participating in discussion on specific topics like behavior change, and how to cope with Depression and Anxiety, which Luis announces at the start of the meeting. Each member is welcomed to speak and share their thoughts, and at the very least, say hello to the group. Members are encouraged to take a seat around a communal table, and Luis says this helps “make everyone feel like they belong and are a part of the community.”
The discussion provides motivation for people early in recovery and inspiration for those who are not yet ready. Often time success stories are shared to the group and over the years there have been hundreds of participants, some St. Francis House guests and other visitors from the community. Rafael a longtime group member states, “sometimes one word might be the word to change your life.” and Sandro added, “when I first started coming to the group, I wasn’t ready. Now I can see what people share and use that information to move forward. The group helped me to grow up and fix what was broke in my life.”
To learn more about the programs and services available at St. Francis House.