Santa Cruz Good Times

Friday
Mar 27th
Text size
  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size

Decades of Help

news2The Santa Cruz Community Counseling Center marks its 40th anniversary

Joseph Luna, 58, credits Si Se Puede, a program of the Santa Cruz Community Counseling Center, with saving his life.

This month marks the 40th anniversary of the center, which offers an umbrella of services that range from housing assistance to behavioral health counseling, parental education and nutrition classes, among others. 

Back in 1991, Luna entered the organization’s residential recovery program after receiving a felony drunken-driving conviction. At the time, he says, he just wanted to avoid prison time. But his experience at Si Se Puede proved more transformative than he could have imagined.

“I ended up working on myself and my issues,” he says. “I realized I was going to end up killing myself.”

He’s been sober ever since, is happily married and owns a home. He began working as a counselor at Si Se Puede in 1993, a job he says helps him just as much as it helps the people he works with.

“It’s a beautiful experience,” he says. “I really enjoy what I do.”

Luna is one of about 375 people employed by the counseling center, which serves approximately 7,500 people annually.

“One thing that we always say is that we’re kind of the best-kept secret in Santa Cruz County,” says Executive Director Carolyn Coleman. “We’re hoping to make people more aware of the wide spectrum of services offered,”

Coleman first started working at the organization in 1981 as a program assistant in the youth services program, and has worn a variety of hats since then, becoming executive director in 2007. First founded in 1973 with a focus on substance abuse, the center has grown and expanded in the past four decades against a backdrop of economic recessions, the AIDS crisis, the War on Drugs and much more.

“One reason we’ve been successful is that we have been able to be flexible when it comes to changing community needs,” Coleman says,

The recent economic downturn, which coincided with Coleman becoming executive director, has had a huge effect on the counseling center and on the needs of the community.

“It’s been hard the last five years,” says Coleman. “It’s definitely made people more vulnerable.”

As more people find themselves out of jobs, the organization also suffered a 5.2 percent cut in federal funding, and officials have had to make some hard choices.

“There’s been a converging of increased need and fewer resources available,” Coleman says. “In some places, we’ve seen longer waiting lists.”

To combat these dueling elements, organization employees have strived to make cutbacks where they can without leaving clients in the lurch. That has meant such moves as letting go of some of their transportation services and having staff take furloughs—anything, basically, that can be done to maintain services without affecting families and children, they say.

At the same time, there’s been an increased need for the organization’s behavioral health services—a term that encompasses both mental health and substance abuse services; the two often go hand-in-hand, Coleman says.

“I think people really understand the need for drug treatment,” she says.

Those services have also become more

in demand as the state’s prison realignment

program is implemented, shifting more people out of the County Jail and into custody

alternatives that often include drug and alcohol treatment programs.

At the center’s core is an emphasis on what officials there call participatory decision-making.

“We are not the solution, we are just a catalyst,” explains Deutron Kebebew, project director of PAPAS, a program that focuses on fathers.

PAPAS runs classes supporting fatherhood involvement, as well as courses in conflict management, and works to raise awareness of the impacts of positive fatherhood as opposed to absentee fatherhood. It works with fathers being released from jails and prisons on re-entering into and re-integrating with society and their families as well.

The absence of fathers is a huge social problem, says Kebebew, and programs like PAPAS benefit society overall as a result.

According to U.S. Census Bureau statistics, about a third of the nation’s children live in fatherless homes and 71 percent of high school dropouts come from fatherless homes. Teen pregnancies are far more common in young women who grow up without fathers, and some 70 percent of youth in state-operated institutions come from fatherless homes.

The economic crisis has increased the need for PAPAS services, Kebebew says.

“We’re seeing more dads coming in—when they aren’t employed, their self-esteem goes down, they get depressed, they feel helpless,” he explains. “We’re seeing the distress it has on families.”

He’s also seen the overall need for mental health services increase in recent years. Still, he is positive about the future and says the fact that he sees more fathers seeking services is ultimately a good thing.

“We have a new generation that is really engaged in their role as fathers,” he says.  


The Santa Cruz Community Counseling Center celebrates its 40th anniversary with a private event on Thursday, Sept. 19. Learn more about the organization at scccc.org.

Comments (0)Add Comment

Write comment
smaller | bigger

busy
 

Share this on your social networks

Bookmark and Share

Share this

Bookmark and Share

 

Best of Santa Cruz 2015

In 40 years of publishing, Good Times has seen a lot of “bests.”

 

Spring Triangle: Three Spring Festivals—Aries, Taurus, Gemini

The Spring signs Aries, Taurus and Gemini constitute a triangle of force that sets the template for the nine signs that follow and the template for the entire year (Spring 2015 - Spring 2016) ahead. Aries initiates new ideas, Taurus stabilizes the new thinking of Aries and Gemini takes the initiating stabilized ideas of Aries/Taurus and disperses them to all of humanity. It is in this way that humanity learns new things, with the help of Mercury, the messenger. As Spring unfolds, three elements emerge: the Fire of Aries (initiating new ideas), the Earth of Taurus (anchoring the ideas of God through Mercury) and the Air of communicating Gemini. These three signs/elements are the Three Spring Festivals. They are the “triangle of force” forming the template (patterns) of energy for the upcoming new year. After these three we then have the soothing, calming, warming, nurturing and tending waters of the mother (Cancer). Cancer initiates our next season under the hot suns of summer. Planets, stars and signs create the Temple of Light directing humanity towards all things new. March 29 is Palm Sunday, when the Christ, World Teacher, was led into Jerusalem (City of Peace) on a donkey (humility). Palms waving above His head, signified recognition of the Christ’s divinity. Palm Sunday is the Sunday before the Easter (Resurrection Festival). Palm Sunday begins Holy Week, the week of capture, imprisonment, passion, sacrifice, crucifixion, death and resurrection of the christ. All events in the Christ’s life represent events (initiations) that humanity experiences through many lifetimes. We turn our attention to these holy events this week. Their concepts portray and reveal to us greater spiritual understanding. Then, Aries, the “light of life itself” shines through us.

 

The New Tech Nexus

Community leaders in science and technology unite to form web-based networking program

 

The Magic Touch

Stage magician vs. charlatans in engaging ‘An Honest Liar’
Sign up for Good Times weekly newsletter
Get the latest news, events

RSS Feed Burner

 Subscribe in a reader

Latest Comments

 

Spring Spirits

Sean Venus’ gin straight up, remembering Rosa’s and a tasting of Hungarian wines

 

What’s your favorite most recent outdoor discovery in Santa Cruz?

A hike that’s across from Waddell Beach. I didn’t realize you could go across the highway and do a super simple loop, and it’s beautiful. You can see the coastline. Liz Porter, Santa Cruz, Community Outreach

 

Martin Ranch Winery

Muscat 2012

 

Front Street Kitchen

Pop-up spot attracts paleo crowd with locally sourced low-carb meals