Our mission is rooted in the values of our community and those we serve. We believe in Community and Culture as the cornerstone of mental and emotional wellness. We believe in Trust as the thread linking organizations, communities, and individuals, and the foundation for healing to occur. We believe in Cultural Diversity as a way to honor the wisdom and roots of the community and the basis for the services and programs we offer. We believe in Community Wellness and Wellbeing That traditional health workers and community leaders can be catalysts. We believe in Sustainable Change through collaborations with multiple partners that share our values and vision.
Our mission is to improve and strengthen the mental health and emotional wellbeing of the Latinx community through culturally-grounded, evidence-based practices, interventions, education and capacity building activities.
Raíces de Bienestar is a 501(c)3 non-profit launched in 2021. Our founders and directors have more than 20 years of combined experience working with the Latinx community, traditional health workers, and behavioral, mental, and public health.
Dr. Ruth Zúñiga and Bonnie Lerner met in 2017, when they were working at Pacific University as the Director of the Sabiduría: Latinx Psychology Emphasis and Community Behavioral Health Program Manager at Providence Oregon Region’s Community Health Division (CHD) respectively. Their meeting was in response to a Community Health Needs Assessment specifying the dearth of culturally specific mental health programs and services, and request from the Providence Promotores de Salud program – composed of over 170 active Promotores across the Metro area – who expressed a critical gap in mental health knowledge, tools, and resources. There was an undeniable energy and enthusiasm to work together to build programs in truly collaboration with the Latinx community to meet these needs.
Shortly after being funded by Providence, Dr. Zúñiga, a group of her graduate psychology students, and an advisory group of the Promotores joined together to begin designing what is now the “Latinx emotional health signature curriculum” for traditional health workers (THWs) and community leaders. Dr. Zúñiga and her mentees trained over 90 THWs between 2018 – 2019. In 2020-2021, another community program developed by Dr. Zúñiga and team – charlas – reached over 15,000 people in 8 different countries during the pandemic. This innovative model pairs THW and clinician students together to facilitate Latinx specific community conversations on mental health and wellbeing. These programs were met with acclaim including Dr. Zúñiga being awarded the public health ambassador award for Washington County in 2019, numerous television appearances, conference presentations and articles written related to this work.
In mid-2021, Dr. Zúñiga and Bonnie decided to bring these successful programs, consulting services and clinical services under the non-profit Raíces de Bienestar. Drawing on existing partnerships, United Way of Columbia Willamette fiscally sponsored them immediately. Their first grant was awarded in August 2021 for over $140,000 to develop a climate resiliency and recovery program in three different Oregon geographies devastated by wildfires. Since that first grant, the organization recruited the first Board members, obtained 501(c)3 status, hired a Lead Promotora, re-launched the community advisory committee, hired scores of contractors, and supports, served over 1000 people. Currently, Raíces de Bienestar is developing a mental health clinic to deliver therapy to un- and under-insured Latinx families and recently hired a bi-lingual, bi-cultural clinical director to eventually lead this clinic among other programmatic activities.
Send us a message for general information about Raíces, including opportunities to partner and how to support our work.