THE BROWNSVILLE BUENA VIDA COUNSELORS
The Brownsville Buena Vida Counselors are a group of master’s level counseling professionals who are committed to providing pro bono services to the community in times of need. This group is the result of months of planning between The University of Texas at Brownsville’s Center for Civic Engagement under the direction of Joseph Zavaletta, Jr. and UTB’s Community Counseling Clinic (CCGC), coordinated by Dr. Selma Yznaga. In addition, the involvement of Rene Atkinson, Michelle Lazorko, and Alma Munoz made this group possible.
In 2001, UTB received a grant from the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to help revitalize Brownsville’s urban areas. The University created the Center for Civic Engagement, and the pilot phase of this office has been a focus on the Buena Vida neighborhood, one of the oldest communities in Brownsville. East 7th St., Highway 77, E. 14th St., and E. Madison St. border the neighborhood.
A study completed by UTB in conjunction with the Cross Border Institute for Regional Development (CBIRD) was released in October of 2003. The study highlights the demographics of the Buena Vida neighborhood, including a 50% rate of residents over the age of 25 with less than a 9th grade education; an 85% rate of families with children under the age of 5 living in poverty; and 91% of the city’s rapes in 2002.
After several focus groups with the residents of the Buena Vida neighborhood, it was decided that a Wellness Clinic would be created in what is currently being used as a storage facility for the housing project on Miraflores St. The residents completed a Needs Assessment for services that identified counseling, health, and exercise services as top priorities.
The areas of counseling that were decided upon by the residents are family issues, including domestic violence; parenting issues; relaxation and meditation for stress; and women’s issues, including rape and abuse. In addition, counselors who are insured and hold LPC (Licensed Professional Counselor) licensure are welcome to provide individual counseling sessions at the UTB CCGC site on days other than the Buena Vida Wellness Clinic Tuesdays.
The Brownsville Buena Vida Counselors will keep the Buena Vida name for future efforts to provide services to the community, since our priority is helping our fellow residents to achieve a “good life.” At present, we are a grassroots organization that will learn and develop as we grow. We are not affiliated with any state or national counseling associations, although many of us are members of such. We are simply caring and dedicated professionals who wish to reach as many people in need as possible.
The group plans to meet informally when necessary to conduct training, discuss referrals from the community, and participate in fellowship with our colleagues. Please join us!
For more information or to request services, please contact Dr. Selma Yznaga at The University of Texas at Brownsville at 548-7855 or e-mail email@example.com.