NCLR Affiliate Spotlight: Valle del Sol

By David Castillo, New Media Manager, NCLR 

Valle-del-Sol-Youth-PicLive 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.

Hispanic-Leadership-Institute

Hispanic Leadership Institute 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.”

Youth-VdS-CloudsIt’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.”

SB 1070 Taken Down Yet Another Notch

SCOTUS_picEarlier this week, the Supreme court dealt another blow to supporters of the infamous anti-immigrant SB 1070 law. The court declined to review a specific provision of SB 1070 that would have made it illegal to transport or harbor undocumented immigrants. That provision had already been blocked by the U.S. District court in Phoenix and an injunction was later upheld by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. Were it not for the tireless work of our Arizona Affiliates, this case might still be making its way through the courts. The case was led by our Affiliates in Arizona, with Valle del Sol listed as the lead plaintiff.

NCLR President and CEO, Janet Murguía, applauded the court’s decision in the statement below.

“The decision by the U.S. Supreme Court to uphold this injunction unequivocally affirms what we have known to be true since this law was passed in 2010: SB 1070 is an unconstitutional infringement on the civil rights of all Arizonans. This legislation is a reckless attempt to make racial profiling and discrimination the law of the land in Arizona, tarnishing the state’s reputation and needlessly costing millions of dollars to defend it in the courts. We applaud the efforts of our Affiliates in Arizona, including the lead plaintiff in this court case, Valle del Sol, and the supporting plaintiff, Arizona Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, as well as our allies throughout the state. They have all tirelessly pushed back against this legislation in order to ensure that all Arizonans, especially Latinos, are treated by law enforcement fairly, with dignity and respect.”

Health Equity Programs in Jeopardy: Not Just Numbers, It Is about People

By Zoila Sanchez, Policy Analyst, Health Policy Project, National Council of La Raza

family_healthequitypostMany of the programs that vulnerable, working, and middle-class families use to overcome poverty and secure good health are continuously in jeopardy.  This is cause for alarm since Latinos are more likely to be uninsured and disproportionately impacted by food insecurity and chronic diseases such as obesity.  Programs that promote health equity can be a lifeline for many Latinos, providing them with high-quality, affordable care.

There are many compelling reasons for protecting programs that support health equity among Latinos:

  • More than one in three (35 percent) people served by Community Health Centers, which provide culturally competent and affordable health care, are Latino.
  • Nearly one-half (49.3 percent) of Latino children are insured by Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).  Medicaid provides affordable health coverage to millions of low-income working Latino families, reaching one-quarter of Latino adults.
  • Food insecurity rates are significantly higher among Latino-headed households than the national average (26.2 percent versus 14.9 percent).  Federal food assistance programs help struggling families overcome hunger and food insecurity.

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