In the Community: Welcoming a New Mental Health Services Space to East Palo Alto

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February 14, 2019 | Divier Wallace, Children’s Health Council Coordinator (CHC), speaks to guests at the launch of the Ravenswood Initiative, a project of the CHC that provides educational and mental health services to young people across San Mateo County. Photograph by Mike Navarrete.

Children’s Health Council (CHC) mental health services coordinator Divier Wallace understands the importance of supporting his community.

Culturally, I understand the unique challenges that many of our students and families face, and I am proud to be able to help the next generation growing up in East Palo Alto and other surrounding communities.
“As someone who grew up in East Palo Alto during the 1990s when times were very tough, I am so pleased to be able to come back and work with my community to provide services for families in need, in their language of choice,” said Wallace, speaking at the recent grand opening of the new East Palo Alto office and clinical space of the Ravenswood Initiative, a CHC project.

Wallace is part of a team of bilingual, bicultural clinicians at CHC’s Ravenswood Initiative who work with parents, teachers, and students to provide culturally-relevant educational support, case management, linking to community resources, and behavioral and mental health services. The initiative helps kids in East Palo Alto, Belle Haven, and North Fair Oaks grow and develop skills to reach their full potential.

“Culturally, I understand the unique challenges that many of our students and families face, and I am proud to be able to help the next generation growing up in East Palo Alto and other surrounding communities,” Wallace told the packed house of partners, CHC board members, funders, and community members who came out to celebrate the opening of the new center.

CHC has provided top-rated education and mental health services to children and families for 65 years. CHC launched its Ravenswood Initiative five years ago with an ambitious vision: to create a system where no child in the community falls through the cracks due to a mental health issue that may impact their learning or their ability to be happy, healthy, and successful. Since the launch of the Ravenswood Initiative, CHC has provided mental health services and consultations at no cost to parents, children, and educators across San Mateo County.

February 14, 2019 | Divier Wallace and Leticia Arreola-Garcia, Children’s Health Council Coordinators, participate in a ribbon cutting to celebrate the opening of Ravenswood Initiative, which connects local children and families to educational and mental health services in East Palo Alto. Photograph by Mike Navarrete.

The new East Palo Alto office is a significant milestone for CHC and the Ravenswood Initiative. Previously, staff met with parents and teachers at the library or a local coffee shop. Now they have a welcoming, confidential space where clients can sit down and feel comfortable and supported.

As the grand opening ceremony concluded each attendee was given a stone engraved with a message of inspiration along with a letter of courage that read:

“Nosotros somos como una piedra en el rio… Que cuando alguien la tira a el agua con fuerza rebota en la superficie del agua, creando un efecto positivo de larga duración…de la misma forma que CHC crea en nuestros niños, jóvenes, familias y comunidad.”

Translation: We can all be like stones thrown in the stream, creating ripples of lasting change, just as CHC hopes to do in our community.

The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative supports CHC through the CZI Community Fund, helping to build the organization’s capacity to serve more families and increase direct services for youth in the community through programs like the Ravenswood Initiative.

Learn more about Children’s Health Council and its Ravenwood Initiative at www.chconline.org/ravenswood.

Learn more about the CZI Community Fund at: chanzuckerberg.com/community/fund.