Archive for May, 2010

A Visit From…Ernie?

One of our programs in McAllen, Texas recently received a surprise visit from Hollywood star: Valente Rodriguez.  Anyone who has watched the George Lopez Show knows this actor as George’s best friend, Ernie.

Cynthia Leon tells the story of his visit.

Valente is a native of Edcouch- Elsa, just minutes from our facility,  and at the request from one of our staff took the time out of his busy schedule to visit with and talk to our youth clients.  How cool is that?

Being from a poor family of migrant workers, he shared his own life struggles and family problems including his brother who spent 19 years in Huntsville prison for murder.  He talked to the kids about how making bad decisions can impact you and your family for a lifetime.  He talked about how his brother would tell him from behind the plexi-glass window in Huntsville Prison that making an “A” in Math or English was much easier than spending one day in Huntsville.

He reinforced one way out, was through education, a route he himself had followed. He encouraged our youth to change now, because they still have time to turn themselves around.  He encouraged the kids to have a voice because every person in America has an opportunity to make something of themselves if they choose to.  He acknowledged our program and staff for caring to invite him to come and speak to them.

After Valente spoke, youth asked questions related to his movie career.  Valente’s first role was in the movie, Blood In, Blood Out.  Youth also asked about other Chicano actors such as George Lopez and Cheech Marin.  One parent asked Valente about portraying more positive roles. Valente stated that is definitely one of his goals, to highlight Latino’s in more positive roles and to have more brown people on the little black box we know as “the TV.”

Afterwards, Valente posed for pictures with youth, staff and families!  Everyone had an awesome time, thank you Valente for taking the time to visit with us.

May 27, 2010 at 5:07 pm Leave a comment

Southwest Key Expands Services in Milwaukee

An estimated 1 in 5 youth have a diagnosable mental health disorder and a disproportionate number of them are ending up in the juvenile justice system.

Our Southwest Key’s program in Milwaukee was recently awarded a contract through Wraparound Milwaukee to provide a new program, Crisis Stabilization and Supervision, as well as Mentoring, writes Elizabeth Shimeta, Program Director for Milwaukee.

Wraparound is a managed care program operated by the Milwaukee County Behavioral Health Division.  It is designed to provide comprehensive, individualized, and cost effective care to children with complex mental health and emotional needs.

Services will be provided to troubled youth at risk for placement in a psychiatric hospital, residential treatment center, or other institutional placement.  Our crisis workers will help youth and their families recognize high risk behaviors and teach them effective techniques and interventions to de-escalate crisis situations.

One-to-one mentoring will also be provided as a part of both the Crisis and Mentoring programs as needed. Mentors play a vital role in the youth’s life by facilitating emotional and social growth through positive interactions that meet the youth’s needs.

We are very excited about providing both programs. This is a great opportunity for Southwest Key to expand in Milwaukee, demonstrate our expertise in this area, and help more youth and their families.

May 21, 2010 at 1:47 pm Leave a comment

Award Nominee Ananda Moss

You never know what talents your co-workers may have!  Our very own Ananda Moss recently joined writer and director Zell Miller III in choreographing the Uprise! Productions hip-hop performance piece Arrhythmia, which has been nominated for Best Ensemble Performance for the 2010 Austin Critics Table Awards.  The awards recognize the year’s most exceptional achievements in dance, classical music, the visual arts, and theatre.   Congratulations, Ananda!

(Photo by Jose Medina)

Find out more about Arrythmia and Uprise! Productions, and the Austin Critics Table Awards.

May 14, 2010 at 3:00 am Leave a comment

Breaking Ground and Putting People in East Austin Back to Work

In this economy, who doesn’t want to see jobs created, training classes full and hope restored to low-income individuals and families?

Certainly not the hundreds of people who gathered this Saturday to celebrate Southwest Key Programs groundbreaking ceremony for our new Social Enterprise Complex. A center that aims to put people in East Austin back to work by providing jobs, skills training and other workforce development initiatives.

Joined by distinguished guest speakers, a packed audience heard about the project, celebrated the groundbreaking, spent time at our job fair, before enjoying a fiesta for the whole family. With assistance from the Economic Development Administration, the new 14,000 sqft building is expected to be completed by Summer 2011.

More photos here.

May 6, 2010 at 12:35 pm Leave a comment


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