The mission of El Centro de Amistad, Inc., (ECDA) a multilingual, cross cultural organization, is to provide a comprehensive range of mental health services, anticipating the ever-changing needs of families and individuals in the San Fernando Valley. Since our founding in 1977, we have provided critically needed mental health services and programs to more than 110,000 low-income children, individuals, and families.
Because of ECDA’s comprehensive, wraparound mental health services, children and youth are successfully coping with trauma, unemployed adults are managing mental illness and increasing healthy coping skills, and families are learning to better communicate with and support each other. Our goal is that, upon termination, each client will understand how to access available community resources and have an improved support network and clear action plan for maintaining positive behavioral changes.
ECDA got its start in 1977, when a group of residents from the impoverished Canoga Park “Barrio” community grew concerned about the needs of the predominantly Latino families that struggled with unemployment, crime, poverty and drug abuse. This group of activists founded ECDA. ECDA began as a storefront program with three staff, targeting the large community of at-risk, gang-involved youth by providing substance abuse treatment and related services. Today, we employ 85 staff members and serve over 1,500 clients annually. While the core of our mission has stayed the same, ECDA has significantly expanded our services to assist children in foster care/families with DCFS involvement. Kristina, an ECDA client is one example of how we are helping those in need:
Kristina was 16 years old when she began receiving services at El Centro De Amistad. She was referred to mental health services due to exhibiting various depressive symptoms, suicidal ideation and engaging in self-injurious behaviors several times in order to “punish” herself. These symptoms and behaviors significantly impacted her functioning in home and school environments.
Over the course of two years Kristina worked closely with her therapist and learned coping skills and stress reducing strategies to better manage triggers of her depressive symptoms and other life stressors. Kristina’s therapist used various tangible therapeutic techniques to help increase her use of positive coping and communication skills and to grow her practice of appropriate social skills.
Kristina has recently received a scholarship to a competitive dance school and is an avid guitar player. She is graduating High School this year and has applied to several colleges which she is in the process of visiting in order to find the best match for herself. Kristina was able to raise above and find the strength within herself to overcome life’s obstacles.
ECDA’s board of directors are collectively raising $9,000 during the month of May, Mental Health Awareness month to support our mission. Your donation will ensure that youth like Kristina receive the support that they need.