By Susan Resko
January 26, 2023

Made possible by the visionary and generous seed money donation from Cynthia and Dan Helle, I am proud to announce our first ever Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) scholarship awardees. These four Josselyn employees are pursuing advanced degrees in social work and Josselyn is grateful to be able to support these staff members efforts, so that we may address the severe shortage of therapists of color. 

Alejandra Avila

  • Current Josselyn Role: Supported Employment Manager
  • School: Loyola University
  • Anticipated Degree: Master of Social Work
What does this scholarship mean to you?

It gives me an opportunity to be able to give back to the community that helped me grow. I’ve had great supervisors at Josselyn and I’m grateful for that. I feel that being a person of color, sometimes we have to overcome a lot of challenges and barriers in our community. For example, mental health isn’t something that’s talked about a lot in communities of color.

What do you hope to do with the continued education? 

Once I’m licensed, my goal is to continue to find different ways that I can help others in the community, whether it’s addressing mental health in schools or addressing mental health in the Spanish community and finding different ways we can reach that audience. I’m excited to see where this will take me and I’m happy to be at Josselyn.   

Can you describe what sets Josselyn apart from other mental health care providers?

I feel personally that Josselyn does care about their employees’ mental health. I feel like a lot of other providers advocate for mental health for others, like their clients, but not necessarily for their employees. I feel the support that I’ve had from my supervisors and the support of my colleagues has made a difference. 

What does Mental health for all mean to you?

Mental health for all means that anyone in the community is able to access the services they need and are able to receive them regardless of their history, background, culture, or community. 

Why do you love Josselyn?

I love Josselyn because I feel seen and valued. It has given me room to grow while being able to help and mentor others. I love Josselyn because of the support that I’ve received from my supervisors and colleagues. I think those are the top things that I love about Josselyn: the work community and also that we’re able to help people who need it. 

I also wanted to say thank you to everyone who has either directly or indirectly helped me along the way in the past and has continued to support me and my future. 

Leilani Barrera

  • Current Josselyn Role: Psychiatric Services Case Manager
  • School: Loyola University
  • Anticipated Degree: Master of Social Work
What does this scholarship mean to you?

That the importance of representation is being acknowledged. I think that’s something that most people in the community would like to see, especially in a therapeutic setting. And that there are more opportunities becoming available for the BIPOC community.

What do you hope to do with the continued education? 

I hope to practice therapy at Josselyn. Because Josselyn offers a diversity of services, therapists can choose from group, individual, or family therapy. I’m keeping my options open as to what kind of therapy to practice.

Can you describe what sets Josselyn apart from other mental health care providers?

Josselyn is completely different because of its holistic and integrated approach. For example, it’s really hard to find a mental health center or provider that offers therapy and psychiatry services, as well as supported employment opportunities. It’s great that Josselyn offers a diverse range of services for the community and has multiple locations. We are able to reach and serve a lot more people. 

What does Mental health for all mean to you?

Mental health for all means serving anyone and everyone who needs the support. Also, more and more people are understanding the importance of mental health and seeking out the services that Josselyn provides, which is great.  

Why do you love Josselyn?

I really love that we’re focused on community, pay attention to the community needs and then take action with a new program or another service that can target those needs. A prime example is the teen Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP). They saw that need and then they put it into place.  

Also, there is a notion of the stigma around mental health care and I’m proud that Josselyn is fighting against that.

 Jocelyn Fontalvo

  • Current Josselyn Role: IOP Intake Specialist/Case Manager
  • School: Northeastern Illinois University
  • Anticipated Degree: Master of Social Work
What does this scholarship mean to you?

I’ve been wanting to go back to school, but I haven’t been able to because of the financial part, especially because I still owe money for my Bachelor of Social Work degree. Now, thanks to this scholarship, I know that I can pursue a Master of Social Work degree and give back to the community. It’s awesome.

What do you hope to do with the continued education? 

My passion is working with children, teens, and families and Northeastern has a program that specializes in those groups. Once I earn my MSW, I hope to utilize my skills in our IOP. I’m interested in exploring how I could educate prospective clients on mental health and how to take care of our mental health.

Can you describe what sets Josselyn apart from other mental health care providers?

At Josselyn, we say we’re going to meet the client where they are, and I feel we genuinely do this. Every team at Josselyn plays an integral role in the care of all clients. We have staff behind the scenes gathering resources, contacting insurances, and finding therapists who are a best fit for clients. We accept clients in crisis with open arms and help them navigate their crisis rather than pushing them away.

What does Mental health for all mean to you?

Being able to work with anybody and everybody regardless of whatever barriers they may have — if transportation is a barrier, we offer virtual appointments; or provide appropriate resources to ensure they have access to mental health services.

Why do you love Josselyn?

I love Josselyn because of our culture. Our staff explore innovative ways to reach out to the community to engage them in services. We are a center that offers a wide range of services that are not limited. The best part is that our services include those who are Medicaid recipients.

Heidi Rivas

  • Current Josselyn Role: Supported Employment Specialist
  • School: DePaul University
  • Anticipated Degree: Master’s in counseling
What does this scholarship mean to you?

It means a lot and I feel it’s a privilege to be awarded this. In addition, it means that I’m able to represent the BIPOC population through this scholarship and in the future, I will be able to use my training and education to help more people in the BIPOC community.

What do you hope to do with the continued education?

I would like to get my LCPC and become certified in Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR). After this, one of my long-term goals is to have my own private practice. In addition, I plan to work with the BIPOC community, that’s one of the main populations I would like to work with.

It’s harder in our society if you’re a person of color, so I’d like to help BIPOC individuals navigate their emotions and feelings as they face these types of barriers and challenges.

Also, there’s a lot of stigma around mental health as well as generational trauma in certain cultures that I would like to help individuals with.

I am a person of color, I’m Latina and I’m a woman. I feel there’s a lot of stigma around mental health, where individuals in these communities feel they can’t get help or that mental health care doesn’t work or that you’re weak for seeking help. I’d like to educate people and present it to our community as another form of health because sometimes you do need to talk to someone, and you do need to speak your mind, and be heard and feel validated.

Can you describe what sets Josselyn apart from other mental health care providers?

We offer a large, varied range of services. We have therapists that are certified in EMDR. We have art therapists, group therapists, and dance/movement therapists. I feel that that really sets us apart from a lot of community mental health places because many of them offer just basic therapy.

I feel that having this variety is helpful because a client might benefit from one of those services. In addition, as a therapist you get to learn more from your peers in those different areas.

What does Mental health for all mean to you?

No one gets left behind when it comes to mental health care. Whatever challenges you’re going through, you can come in and Josselyn can help you with wherever you’re at in life. Also, there are no barriers in terms of race. And for those who don’t have transportation, we offer telehealth so you’re still able to get access to mental health care.

Why do you love Josselyn?

We have such a great community that helps one another. I also feel like I get to learn from a variety of people. I started at the front desk, so I got to learn from administration, and I got to learn from billing and now I get to pull from the clinical team. I love feeling like I’m a little sponge and I’m just getting help from all these different people in this company. I feel I’ve been learning a lot and I’ve been able to grow.

If you would like to make a gift in support of Josselyn’s BIPOC Scholarship Fund, please contact Ami Campbell at [email protected] or donate online. Thanks for supporting these students in their pursuit of service to others.

Check out these related articles
Supporting Teens with a Higher Level of Care
Supporting Teens with a Higher Level of Care

It has been a little over one year since the U.S. Surgeon General issued a public health advisory calling for a comprehensive, coordinated response to the mental health needs of young people. During the pandemic, more than one in three high school students experienced...

Individual Placement and Support
Individual Placement and Support

Did you know that Josselyn offers employment assistance for our clients? Josselyn’s supported employment program, called Individual Placement and Support (IPS), provides vocational assessments, help with the job search, resume assistance, job coaching, interviewing...

Seasonal Affective Disorder
Seasonal Affective Disorder

Self CareThis time of year can be filled with joy, anticipation and also some trepidation. December may find us with extra commitments on our calendars and a stressfully long to-do list. Additionally, next week marks the shortest day of the year, which means the...

Get holistic care that meets your needs

Our hope is to help you achieve mental wellness. Start the conversation today.

Connect With Us