Lives are being imPACTed.
Former staff therapist Cynthia Barboza knows firsthand how transformational counseling can be. She flipped the script of her own story and provided therapy PACT partner Brother Bill's Helping Hand (BBHH) in West Dallas in the same office where she received counseling. Her family has moved away from the Dallas area, but she was truly a gift to our team.
“The first time I heard about counseling at Brother Bill’s I was living with my parents,” said Cynthia. “I moved back to Dallas from Mexico and was three months pregnant with my third child. I had left a very difficult relationship with my children’s father. I didn’t have a job or a car.
“I came to Brother Bill’s with my mom to get groceries. I remember standing in the lobby and saw one of the flyers with all the services listed including counseling. I had been looking for counseling at other places and it didn’t work out because I didn’t have insurance, or it was too far away. Brother Bill’s was just down the street from where we lived.
“Knowing that this resource was freely available simply because of where I lived was a blessing. I was ready to sign up.
“My third child was a newborn when I began my counseling sessions in September 2016. I remember my first couple of sessions were upstairs in a room surrounded by storage boxes because they were finishing up the space downstairs. I didn’t care. I just wanted someone to hear me out and they did.
“Then we started meeting downstairs when the counseling room became furnished. We worked on the symptoms of depression and anxiety, the grief and loss of my relationships. My children were also in the process of being diagnosed with autism. It was overwhelming because I was an unemployed single mom, living with my parents.
“My therapist helped me work on improving my functioning so I could get a job. She helped me accept the reality of what had happened to me. I had gone through trauma and was living with that past trauma. Over time, I was able to increase my strength and obtain the courage to set real goals and dreams.
“After processing and accepting what had happened – I realized it wasn’t the end – it wasn’t the end of my story. I learned there were options and there was hope. Without counseling this would not have happened.
“I started community college. I identified my degree interest and started going after my education. I was able to move out of my parents’ home and move to Buckner Family Pathways Program (which provides affordable housing for single parents enrolled in school fulltime). There, I started my bachelor’s degree in social work.
“Because I had moved from West Dallas, I was unable to continue counseling at Brother Bill’s (after almost two years), but Buckner started providing counseling for me. I was at Buckner for three years. During that time, I completed my bachelors and master’s degrees during the pandemic with my three kids. I graduated with my master’s and started working fulltime at Dallas Child & Family Guidance Center.
“I passed my LMSW (Licensed Master of Social Work) exam and wanted to go for the LCSW (Licensed Clinical Social Work) exam and remembered The Center from when I was at Brother Bill’s. I looked up The Center’s website and reached out letting them I know I was interested in obtaining clinical hours toward my degree.
“I began at The Center on February 28 of this year providing counseling through the PACT Program at Brother Bill’s down the street from my parents. I look back at my life with gratitude. My children are now 10, 7 and 5 and I’m engaged to be married. I feel truly blessed to have been able to receive these blessings, these programs. If it wasn’t for these programs and grant, I wouldn’t have healed. I wouldn’t have recovered as great as I have from my past and I wouldn’t have obtained the strength to fight to get to where I am now.
“I’m able to use all these experiences in my career now. It’s been an easy transition back to Brother Bill’s. It’s surprisingly comfortable because I’ve been in my clients’ shoes and can relate to them so much. The empathy just flows and it's natural. I’m very devoted because I want to help them - because I know they can recover and heal - with the right help.
“Donors and foundations don’t get to see the end story of the people they are often helping. If they only knew the impact and the potential that comes from their generosity - I know they would experience the true joy that I feel. And when I reflect on the impact of the generosity of others, it makes me want to be even more generous with my talents and time," concluded Cynthia.
Wesley-Rankin Community Center
“The Center has exceptional people on staff. We couldn’t do our mission without the services provided by The Center,” said Natalie Breen, Director of Children’s Education at Wesley-Rankin. “They understand the context of what we’re dealing with here. We have parents who are working all day and night, victims of eviction, illness, incarceration, and loving, hard-working families who need extra support. We work to empower families and help them take back control. The Center augments that so well and has helped our kids with conflict resolution and responsibility. They have taught us ways to individualize learning and address the whole child in an individual way.
“Schools don’t have time to address mental health issues and we’re lucky to address it here. If a child is not able to self-regulate, academics can only go so far. In the past, we saw kids getting in trouble at school, always getting in trouble here, and then going home frustrated and upset. Now, students are able to go home and spend family time and have a positive evening, because they don’t have to deal with issues related to school and homework.
“The Center’s counselor (Bess Reynolds, LPC) emphasizes family counseling, family groups, mother-daughter, and sibling experiences. We’re so grateful for her time spent with the Gomez sisters (name changed) grades 4, 5 and 7. The Center began working with these girls three years ago when we learned their mom was fighting Lupus. Initially, we were treating them similarly, but they were acting out so differently – one hid, one punched, one internalized. Bess was able to address them with different strategies.
“Sadly, their mom passed away and it was incredibly hard. Bess supported the Wesley-Rankin staff, the grandmother and the three daughters. I don’t know how any of us would have walked through that without The Center. Ironically, the Gomez family was the first family to receive counseling three years ago and it has come full circle. The girls and the grandmother are doing really well. They have a positive future because they were able to process well, grieve together and heal. We see how important this work is and how it all connects.”