Why Asking This Question Can Open a World of Hope

“What is the reason you are seeking services?” This question is the entry for many individuals who are desperately looking to change their lives and better their futures. Fortunately for El Centro de Amistad, Flaviola Garcia, intake specialist for nearly three years, is one of the first persons that they speak to who asks this important question. As an intake specialist, Flaviola screens the clients first before assigning them to a therapist. She asks what their symptoms are, determines their medical eligibility, and opens a treatment chart to begin their pathway to healing. Prospective clients are self-referred, or learn about the agency’s services through schools and other community providers. Prior to coming to El Centro de Amistad, Flaviola was involved in an afterschool enrichment program for nearly seven years. At first Flaviola was a bit intimidated with the mental health industry, so when she applied she realized it was the perfect match. As a Chicano Studies major, Flaviola believes she is making an impact in the primarily Latino community she lives in. Working only five minutes away from home, Flaviola’s desire had always been to serve the community and now she’s fulfilling it. “Clients share stories, open up to me and confide in me. Everyone has a purpose in life and at this moment, I think ‘I can instill a little bit of hope so that they can later become the person they are capable of becoming,’ ” said Flaviola, who sees the clients’ at their lowest point and then sees the transformation when they no longer need the services. From having a vulnerable demeanor and low self-esteem to becoming self-reliant and more confident, clients after being treated by El Centro de Amistad staff know they have a hopeful future. Flaviola recalls when she met with a Latina woman in her 40s, who had been mistreated at work and fired a day before. The woman felt her world was ending since her family relied on her income. “She had a panic attack in front of me and I was a little afraid when I saw how she broke down. I wanted to be supportive and strong for her so I brought a supervisor and helped calm her down. She started her treatment and a year later I saw her leaving the agency. She told me ‘Thank you so much. You were an angel that day because you gave me hope.’ She gave me a hug and that was the greatest feeling ever.” “What we do is impacting a person’s life and despite it being challenging at times, knowing that I am able to do that is more than enough for me,” she said.