Aid for troubled youth – Rebekah’s receives $225,000 grant

GILROY
– For at least the next year and a half, Gilroy will have an
additional $225,000 to help troubled public school children get the
psychological help they need.
GILROY – For at least the next year and a half, Gilroy will have an additional $225,000 to help troubled public school children get the psychological help they need.

The Health Trust, a public benefit organization committed to serving at-risk and under-served Santa Clara County residents, awarded a grant Monday to Rebekah Children’s Services of Gilroy. The grant enables the early prevention and intervention center to hire three bilingual outpatient therapists who will treat children referred by the Gilroy Unified School District.

“This will be a huge impact on the lives of Gilroy children. Children here are some of the most under-served in Santa Clara County,” said Matt Gerst, the clinical director at Rebekah Children’s Services. “The schools have expressed an urgent need for the behavioral services that we are offering. The grant provides the seed money for bilingual therapists to treat children who have been hard to reach because of language, economic and cultural barriers.

“A lot of children here are impoverished and their parents don’t have insurance. This grant can help break that cycle,” Gerst said.

An estimated 10 percent of Gilroy students need counseling for various mental and emotional health issues, said Eleanor Villarreal, director of funding and development for Rebekah Children’s Services. Those students will be referred by Rebekah’s health center housed on the Eliot Elementary School campus as well as counselors elsewhere in the school district.

“Teachers are the first to see the behavioral problems. They need to make referrals to a counselor, so the counselors can get in touch with us,” said Villarreal. “It takes a collaborative effort.”

Villarreal isn’t anticipating any communication gap between Rebekah and the GUSD, noting that her organization has 39 education- and prevention-oriented programs in the district.

“The Gilroy Unified School District is pretty well-acquainted with us,” Villarreal said.

One of the reasons Rebekah Children Services won the grant, says Health Trust spokesperson Catherine Edwards, was the collaborative efforts her organization found in Gilroy.

“It’s very appealing to us when we see collaboration,” Edwards said. “It makes programs more effective.”

While the need for child therapists is large, the grant is small, Gerst says. The 18-month, $225,000 grant will ideally launch a permanently expanded counseling program. Rebekah Children’s Services currently has just two counselors on staff.

“Eighteen months will be over in no time. We’re starting now to raise funds to keep the program alive after the grant runs out,” said Villarreal.

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