July 2023

Education Programming Spotlight 

The Power of Early Childhood Education

HCM’s School Readiness Program celebrates the graduation of 23 students! These young achievers have completed the program successfully, with 21 of them preparing to join district schools in the upcoming fall. Among these wonderful students is *Enrique, a young boy whose journey through the program has been remarkable. 

Enrique began the School Readiness Program as a quiet and shy student who preferred to play alone rather than engage in conversation with his classmates. As time progressed, Enrique began to blossom. He made friends and gradually became more comfortable. Although Enrique was still shy, his intelligence shone through as he started distinguishing colors, shapes and mastering holding a pencil correctly to trace his own name. Enrique not only demonstrated academic success, but he also became a role model in the classroom, consistently demonstrating good behavior by following the class rules. 

On a particular occasion, Enrique started acting differently and arrived at the classroom later than usual. When approached by one of the teachers, his mother, *Estela, started crying and explained that it was due to a family situation. Recognizing the importance of support, Estela reached out to the program’s manager for guidance. When Enrique shared with one of the teachers a family scenario involving the police, the program staff took immediate action by thoroughly investigating the situation and connecting the family to various resources within HCM and the broader community. 

Our exceptional teachers go above and beyond, ensuring that every student and their families receive the help they need when they face difficult situations, extending their effort and concern beyond their classroom to support families’ overall well-being. Enrique not only completed the program but also exceeded expectations along the way, demonstrating resilience and growth with the help of our School Readiness Program teachers. Congratulations class of 2023! Off to kindergarten you go!

Health Programming Spotlight 

Navigating Medical Debt

HCM’s Community Health Worker (CHW) and Medical Debt Legal Advocate (MDLA), Carmen Cardenas, recently received a call from *Lisa, who was in desperate need of health insurance after the birth of her premature baby. Recognizing the urgency, Carmen assisted Lisa in applying for emergency Medicaid and securing Medicaid coverage for the baby in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). 

After a lengthy process, the Department of Workforce Services (DWS) finally approved Lisa’s and her baby’s Medicaid applications. However, Lisa still had to pay spenddown amounts (countable income you can spend down to become Medicaid eligible) for her and her baby which had accumulated to over $13,000. Carmen took the initiative to contact DWS and the hospital to confirm the amounts owed and review the processing times. After thorough investigation, Medicaid covered their portion, and the hospital approved the family for a financial aid program which covered the remaining balance. 

The total billing— including hospital bills, NICU expenses, anesthesiology, pathology and ambulance services— exceeded $300,000. The family expressed immense gratitude for Carmen’s valuable help and the support they received from HCM, which was provided free of charge. Lisa says that without Carmen’s expertise as a CHW and MDLA, she would have never been able to overcome the overwhelming medical debt. 

With HCM’s new Medical Debt Legal Advocacy Program, the first of its kind in the U.S., we can now extend assistance to numerous communities struggling with the complex and confusing medical billing system. Carmen Cardenas, CHW, has trained to serve as a bilingual Medical Debt Legal Advocate, allowing her to identify medical debt issues and advice clients on how to resolve them by providing limited-scope legal advice.

Justice Programming Spotlight 

Empowered by Support

Janet, a survivor of domestic violence, was referred to HCM by a victim advocate to receive assistance with filing for a U visa, a special visa available to crime victims who cooperate with law enforcement. Following the approval of the U visa, Janet returned to HCM to seek help in applying for her green card, which would allow her to live and work permanently in the U.S. She sought out Maribel Real, HCM’s Legal Immigration Program Manager who had guided her through the U Visa process, and trusted Maribel to provide step-by-step guidance again. 

Years after her green card approval, Janet became a U.S. citizen this year and expresses her profound gratitude towards HCM, acknowledging that the legal immigration team opened numerous doors for her. Their support not only motivated her to persevere but also empowered her to improve her life and pursue better employment opportunities to help provide more for her children. Janet also says that HCM not only provided practical assistance but also emotional support, making her feel protected and facilitating significant positive changes in her life. She also mentions that HCM has the power to transform lives, reshape mindsets and positively impact families and children. 

Janet’s son, Sergeant Bogar Diaz, who serves in the Marines, says he has seen remarkable growth in his mother’s moral and various aspects of her life. He credits HCM’s support for providing her with a sense of security and enabling her to make decisions guided by the organization. Sergeant Diaz believes that without HCM’s guidance and support, his mother’s journey would have been much more challenging. 

* In order to protect the privacy of those we serve, an alternative name and image is used for this HCM client.

April 2023

Health Programming Spotlight 

Prioritizing Clients’ Safety 

Many of our clients have been victims of domestic violence, various types of assault, or human trafficking, among other crimes. HCM’s bilingual, bicultural therapists prioritize clients’ safety by making it easier for them to receive mental health services. HCM’s Counseling Program offers stress reduction, grief and loss, and resilience groups to our clients, which provide relief and psychoeducation before, during, or after individual therapy. In addition to the groups that are currently available, our program has begun to implement a new process for prioritizing client outcomes.

During the initial intake, our therapists work with clients to develop individualized treatment plans that address the clients’ unique needs and goals. After four weeks of receiving therapy services, our clients are given a test so that our therapist can determine areas of progress and areas of concern. Depending on the results, the client and therapist decide whether the treatment plan should be continued, modified, or discontinued.  By reporting outcomes, we can continuously improve our services and provide the best possible care for our clients, empowering them and helping them build resilience as they navigate their healing journey. 

Justice Programming Spotlight 

A Dream of Becoming a U.S. Citizen Becomes a Reality

*Rosario initially received assistance for a U visa in 2008 and returned in 2013 for assistance in applying for lawful permanent residency, and again in 2021 for assistance in applying for citizenship. Rosario had cancer and was undergoing treatment at the time of her last interview, but despite her health struggles, Rosario remained determined to become a citizen and was overjoyed when she passed her citizenship test. Rosario was hospitalized and unable to walk when she received her appointment for the oath ceremony, where she could pledge her allegiance to the United States and formally become a citizen. Our immigration services manager immediately contacted the local USCIS Field Office and asked if it would be possible to have someone administer the citizenship oath at the hospital; they responded that it would be possible, but that it would take weeks. Rosario didn’t want to postpone her oath ceremony, so her daughter contacted the hospital case manager, who was able to arrange Rosario’s transportation to USCIS for the oath ceremony, and she was able to become a U.S. citizen early this year. HCM is happy for Rosario, and her story is a reminder that with determination, anything is possible.

On another occasion, HCM’s legal immigration team was also invited to meet at a local church to talk with a group of volunteers that provide assistance to displaced people in need of temporary housing.  Church leaders wanted to know how the immigration process works so that they could support families from the Ukraine arriving in Utah as refugees. HCM was honored to be able to share information and educate community leaders about temporary employment authorization and the complex process required to obtain permanent residence in the United States. Our Legal Immigration Program director, Lorina Tester, reported that “it was an incredible opportunity to meet with compassionate people who assist vulnerable populations that have limited resources available to them when they arrive in Utah.”

HCM’s attorneys and U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) Accredited Representatives work with immigrants and their families to gain legal status and participate fully in the community by providing consultations, legal support for immigrant victims of violence, support for humanitarian and temporary status applicants, family reunification assistance, and citizenship services. Immigration services at HCM are always provided without regard to age, gender, faith, race, ethnicity, or ability to pay.  Notably, these services are also provided at various locations in the State of Utah.  We strive to facilitate requests for assistance that come from the community – including hospitals and churches.  

Education Programming Spotlight 

Venturing for Success

Paula and Daniel Pedraza were unemployed due to the hotels where they worked closing during the COVID-19 pandemic. They saw this as an opportunity to venture and see how they could make money to cover their expenses. HCM Parents as Teachers Parent Educator Maria Elena supported the family and connected them to sewing classes around the area. Paula and Daniel first noticed a high demand for face masks after most masks in stores and online were sold out, so they decided to make cloth masks for the Park City community. The Pedraza family advertised their service on Facebook and was well received by families. They made masks for adults and children, some personalized and others with designs, which helped them cover some of their family’s expenses. As a result of their success, they began telling their friends, neighbors, and relatives that they could assist them with simple clothing alterations, and due to positive communication, they were referred to a laundromat in the city to make bags for industrial use.

The family’s entrepreneurial spirit and willingness to adapt to the needs of their community allowed them to expand their services beyond just making masks. Paula saw a need in the nail technician community for gift bags where people could keep their nail sets, so they began creating little bags with the leftover fabric from the face masks, then began looking for holiday and season-themed fabric to give out during festive days. Following a great start, they purchased a Cricut machine so they could offer a wider variety of bags and be able to personalize them. With the addition of facemasks, keychains, and hair ties, Paula and Daniel continuously explore new opportunities to grow their business, and now that summer is approaching, they started to personalize cups.

After learning about their business, our education director, Miriam Garcia, informed the Pedraza family of our Small Business Assistance Program and referred them to our coordinator, Sergio Bernabeu. This program helps immigrants and traditionally marginalized communities throughout the entrepreneurial process by guiding them and empowering them. The Pedraza family is excited to grow their small business and aspire to one day open their own online store where they can display all of their products and their customers can make a secure purchase. We hope to see the Pedrazas’ family business thrive and become a successful venture. Give funny_goodies a follow on Instagram!

* In order to protect the privacy of those we serve, an alternative name and image is used for this HCM client.

January 2023

Justice Programming Spotlight 

Welcome Back Ana Flores

We are thrilled that Ms. Ana Flores has returned to Holy Cross Ministries as an attorney. Ana began her career at HCM as a client intake specialist in 2015, shortly after she was promoted to legal assistant, and then became a Department of Justice Accredited Representative. Ana quickly realized that she was passionate about helping vulnerable immigrants obtain permanent residence and authorization to work in the United States, and she decided to apply to the University of Utah, S.J. Quinney College of Law.

Ana was well prepared for law school, having previously attended Middlebury Institute of International Studies where she earned a master’s degree in international policy with a concentration in human security and development. She also earned a bachelor of arts in global studies, attended the Danish Institute for Studying Abroad in Denmark, and successfully finished a prestigious program at the Ashesi University in Ghana.

Ana has developed a keen understanding of how important it is to promote access to immigration-related legal systems that support social justice. Over the years, she has assisted countless victims of domestic violence escape dangerous living situations and eventually become naturalized citizens. Ana also expertly provides legal services to victims of certain violent crimes, DACA recipients and displaced immigrants seeking asylum in the U.S.

HCM quietly announced that Ana would be returning to HCM’s Legal Immigration Program at the recent Autumn Harvest Benefit. Staff members were overjoyed to find out Ana is now an attorney and news traveled fast in the community. “I was amazed by the number of people who already know Ana!” says Lorina Tester, Director of the Legal Immigration Program. “When she arrived at HCM, she immediately began providing representation for our legal immigration clients, and we are truly blessed that she is back. Everyone in the Holy Cross family hopes that she will be with us for many years to come.”

Education Programming Spotlight 

A Memorable Christmas

Every year, Toys for Tots donates toys to our families in our education programs, bringing joy to the faces of many children. To distribute these toys, our education director and manager planned a Christmas drive-thru celebration with the help of volunteers and supporters. This year, 41 volunteers from Park City Sunrise Rotary and South Summit Interact Club spent an estimate of 104 hours unpacking and preparing gifts. 

Gifts were distributed to 56 families from the Parents as Teachers Program and the School Readiness Program. In addition to the toys, thanks to Park City Sunrise Rotary, families also received a $50.00 gift card, a bag of ingredients to make a warm and delicious hot chocolate, instant photos, and the opportunity to meet Santa! We are grateful to all our volunteers and supporters for making this day so special for so many of our families.

Health Programming Spotlight 

Wraparound Services for Esteban

*Esteban was contacted by Carmen Cardenas, one of HCM’s community health worker/promotoras, who learned that Esteban had no medical or dental benefits, was struggling with food insecurity, and was unsure where to turn for assistance with his needs. Along with all these issues, Esteban was also not feeling well, lacked the financial means to seek medical attention, had a language barrier, and lost a significant portion of his small family business.

Carmen jumped in and assisted Esteban in applying for Medicaid and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, as well as in contacting other community resources for immediate assistance, as there were many available to assist with medical needs. She also met with him at the 4th Street Clinic to ensure he received the necessary medical care for his illness. They were able to schedule appointments for dental, vision, and health care together. Carmen and Esteban collaborated for months to submit numerous applications for services that Esteban qualified for.

HCM offers wraparound services to all our clients, one of which is the Small Business Assistance Program. This program assists immigrants and traditionally marginalized communities in obtaining resources to start or grow their businesses. Esteban’s small business was financially impacted by the pandemic, and he was forced to sell his home. Carmen connected him to HCM’s Small Business Assistance Coordinator, Claire Shaver, and together they applied for several grants to help his business.

Esteban recently contacted Carmen to inform her that he had been approved for all the services they had applied for and was extremely grateful for the assistance that our organization provided him in working through the application process. He is now waiting to hear back about the small business grants, and he expressed his gratitude to Carmen for connecting him with community resources and taking the time to help, explain, and complete applications that assist people with their specific needs.



HCM's Promotor/a Health Outreach Staff

* In order to protect the privacy of those we serve, an alternative name and image is used for this HCM client.

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