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23 INDIVIDUALS SERVED in Fiscal Year 2019/2020
In 2015, YMCA case manager Leroy Cruz started talking about a problem that he was trying to solve. Individuals who spoke Spanish as their sole language had nowhere to go for recovery housing in Berks County. He even knew of women who could not be released from prison because no recovery program was available to accept them. The YMCA had taken several clients who did not speak English, but Leroy noticed that they continued to struggle.
YMCA residents live in communities, but Spanish-speaking members became isolated when they couldn’t communicate with other residents. Reading needed a program that provided housing for Spanish-speaking people in recovery from substance use disorder, allowing them to live together and support each other in their recovery.
Eventually, Leroy started talking about this problem with anyone who would listen. When he spoke to George Vogel, former executive director of COCA, George took action. With funding from COCA and the United Way, Leroy’s vision came to life in December 2017, and the Hacia Adelante program was born. Hacia Adelante translates as “Moving Forward” in English, and today residents continue to move forward with their lives. Participants in the 8-bed program live at the YMCA and receive case management services to help them achieve their goals. They attend counseling, mutual aid meetings, obtain employment, attend ESL classes, and learn life skills.