URI establishes partnership with Progreso Latino

KINGSTON, R.I. — December 7, 1999 — The University of Rhode Island has formed a partnership with Rhode Island’s Hispanic community. URI President Robert L. Carothers and other URI officials signed an agreement last month with representatives from Progreso Latino, the primary community-based organization in Rhode Island that advocates for the needs of persons of Hispanic origin. Progreso Latino is located in Central Falls. Since this summer, URI faculty members and psychologists Dr. Ann Varna Garis, Dr. Lawrence Grebstein, and Dr. Maria Garrido have been meeting weekly to train Progreso Latino staff to enhance the organization’s mental health intervention capacity to the community. “Progreso Latino has numerous programs designed to help the Hispanic community such as the welfare-to-work program, daycare program, citizenship, case managers and adult educational programs,” says URI’s Varna Garis who is the director of the URI Psychological Consultation Center. “People who are in transitions are under a variety of stresses. We are training the organization’s staff with brief counseling and intervention skills. “In addition, the multicultural exposure for our graduate students will better train them to work with Rhode Island’s increasingly diverse population. It is the mission of our psychology department to educate all our students to be effective in this multicultural world. To that end, the department has been diligently recruiting students from diverse populations.” In addition to training, Varna Garis notes that the URI faculty members have done some consulting at the request of the organization. Aida Perez, a URI doctoral student in school psychology is currently volunteering her time in Progreso Latino’s daycare program. Patricia Martinez, director of Progreso Latino comments: “We are excited about the partnership with the University. I think its is only through these kinds of partnerships and the expertise of two institutions that we can make a better place for Rhode Island. Having the professors from URI train our staff members is probably one of the best and greatest investments. As a non-profit we usually don’t have the type of resources to send our members to this type of training. The partnership not only impacts the staff members but the clients as well.” More University-Progreso Latino collaboration is expected. The signed agreement was established to help URI doctoral students gain a greater cultural understanding of issues and programs important to Rhode Island’s Hispanic community. It also will help individuals or groups, identified by Progreso Latino, receive needed health and human services. Other opportunities involving faculty, students, and academic departments in other segments of the University will be explored. Ann Varna Garis is convinced the partnership is effective. “It’s work that can and does make a difference even with short-term intervention. It’s truly gratifying.” -xxx- For More Information: Jan Sawyer, 874-2116