By David Castillo, New Media Manager, NCLR
Live life inspired: for 45 years, NCLR Affiliate Valle del Sol has worked to live up to this motto, which is emblazoned on their headquarters building in Phoenix. Their tradition of caring for the community via health care, human services, and leadership development programs has earned the organization many accolades over the years. An impressive list of programs and health care offerings makes it easy to understand why Valle del Sol is considered such an important asset to the Phoenix metro area.
Last year, Valle del Sol served more than 25,000 men, women, and families. It predominately provides primary care and behavioral health services to the community. In fact, just last year it was recognized as a Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC) Look-Alike, a distinction the group has been working on for more than three years. According to the latest annual report, as a FQHC Look-Alike, Valle del Sol “supports the delivery of comprehensive, culturally competent, quality primary health care services to low-income, underserved, and special populations.” As the primary care provider for so many Latinos in the Phoenix area, the group has keen insight into the health care needs of the community.
“What we see is that there is a need for more access to health care clinics and other health care environments,” said Carlos Galindo-Elvira, Valle del Sol’s chief development officer. “And there is a need for funds to make that accessibility possible.”
One of the key aspects of Valle del Sol’s health care service is that they offer integrated care, meaning they offer mental and behavioral health care along with primary care in an effort to give their patients the best of both worlds.
“Having both mental health and behavioral health issues addressed while also being able to go see a doctor for disease management, vaccinations, a cold, etc., makes us a valuable asset for the community,” said Galindo-Elvira.
The health care services certainly stand out at Valle del Sol and are integral to the organization’s success, but they are also are just a snapshot of its full range of services. In addition to its health care offerings, Valle del Sol also operates a community resource center for parents to help them gain important life skills. Their Connect 2 Lead program also introduces youth ages 13–17 to the concept of leadership and of being a service to the community while also addressing any behavioral health issues.
For Galindo-Elvira, this leadership program, the African American Leadership Institute, and the Hispanic Leadership Institute comprise some of Valle del Sol’s achievements. For 27 years, Valle del Sol has run the Hispanic Leadership Institute (HLI), which has provided an environment for Latinos and people of other diverse backgrounds that is full of learning opportunities designed to create systemic change. Part of HLI’s mission is also to diversify nonprofit boards and municipal commissions. The institute has helped Valle del Sol garner recognition, including as a “Leader of the Year in Social Services” and an overall “Leader of the Year” by the Arizona Capitol Times. The recognition is certainly warranted. Rubén Gallego, one of the institute’s graduates, was recently elected to Congress, something that Galindo-Elvira says the congressman always shares with audiences and prospective participants.
“It was a real affirmation of the work we’re doing in building the next generation of Latino and diverse leaders,” said Galindo-Elvira.
Another proud achievement for the organization came last year. As the lead plaintiff in the case against SB 1070 (the Support Our Law Enforcement and Safe Neighborhoods Act), Valle del Sol was successful in working with the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF) to get the Supreme Court to decline taking a case on behalf of the state of Arizona.
“Valle del Sol agreed to be part of the lawsuit because of the impact SB 1070 would have on the community,” said Galindo-Elvira. “It was also the right thing to do to be opposed to a law with the potential to harm the Latino community. We’re proud of that work.”
It’s no wonder that NCLR has recognized Valle del Sol twice in the last three years as our Far West Affiliate of the Year; being an NCLR Affiliate is something in which the organization takes great pride.
“Being an Affiliate of NCLR, it doesn’t matter how big or small you are,” said Galindo-Elvira. “We recognize that being part of NCLR is being part of something big. Being able to extend our voice, whether in Congress or the White House, we have a national presence.”
As for the future, Galindo-Elvira is confident Valle del Sol will continue its grand tradition of caring for the community and become an even greater asset to Phoenix and to NCLR.
“We want Valle del Sol to continue being the champion, the cheerleader, and the change-maker for Arizona, one that addresses health care, human services, and leadership development needs.”