In celebration and awareness of National Recovery Month in September, Recovery Café Longmont (RCL) announced a new outreach program to the Latinx community in Longmont. While the nonprofit has been providing long-term recovery services for more than a year, the people using its programs do not yet reflect the 25% Latinx population of Longmont, where it is based.
“Studies find Latinx individuals say that lack of access to treatment, lack of insurance, and lack of culturally attuned services are key reasons for not engaging in substance use treatment and recovery programs,” said Lisa Searchinger, executive director of RCL. “We realize that if we truly wish to better engage the Latinx community, it is vital that RCL is seen as a safe, culturally attuned organization with the capability to engage monolingual Spanish speakers.”
Funded by a generous grant from the Colorado Health Foundation, the program recently launched with the hiring of the organization’s first bilingual/bicultural peer support specialist, Felicia Perez-Wright. Perez-Wright credits her own recovery from substance use and working closely with a court-appointed peer support specialist as motivation for her to do similar work at RCL.
“As a bilingual peer support specialist, I hope to be the bridge between the local Latinx community and the resources they may not be aware of or have access to,” Perez-Wright said. “I want to spread hope and encouragement to my peers through my own lived experiences. And to effectively reach and connect with the Latinx community, I will focus on providing support, understanding and communication in a way that is culturally accommodating.”
In addition to the new outreach program, RCL has expanded its board of directors to more accurately reflect the diversity of the individuals they serve and the Longmont community. This year board members will participate in a cultural humility training.
“We believe that greater attention to inclusivity and cultural humility will result in our organization being more effective in our mission to be a community of refuge and healing for people in recovery,” Searchinger said. “At RCL we believe we are all in recovery from something and being a part of a loving, caring community can help provide the stability needed for the often chaotic recovery journey.”
The new board members are Ari Umoja, a school psychologist and a member of the Rocky Mountain Association of Black Psychologists and Boulder NAACP; Martha Fierro, Bilingual Independent Living Advisor at the Center for People with Disabilities, a member of Boulder County Latino Coalition and Supporting Actions for Mental Health (SAM) Latino; Rourke Weaver, Peer Professional, Recovery Advocate, and Executive Director of Spero Recovery. Weaver also serves on the Recovery Work Group of the Colorado Consortium for Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention, and as Board President of the Colorado Association of Recovery Residences.
Since it’s opening in May of 2019, Recovery Café Longmont has served more than 300 individuals along their journey toward recovery. The organization formed to address the unmet need for adequate, accessible, long-term recovery services in Boulder County. More than one million Colorado adults say that they, a loved one, or a close friend has been addicted to alcohol or drugs in their lifetime. Additionally, more than 15% of Coloradans reported poor mental health in 2019, compared with nearly 12% in 2017. In Boulder County, more people die from heroin overdose than in car accidents, and Colorado ranked seventh in the nation for suicide in 2018 (up from 11th in 2017).
Across the country, the need for substance use and mental health services is growing and not being met. More than 20 million people need substance use treatment every year, and only 11% of those who need treatment receive it. What’s more, relapse is common even among those who receive treatment. Recovery Café Longmont was created to provide the kind of supportive community that can help people maintain long-term recovery from addiction, mental health challenges, homelessness, and trauma.