Southwest Collective, CPS Parent University launch weekly group therapy for Chicago migrants

Stephanie Wade Image
Tuesday, April 2, 2024
Community groups launch weekly therapy sessions for Chicago migrants
Chicago migrants can receive free group therapy weekly at the CPS Parent University building in Pilsen in collaboration with Southwest Collective.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- The road for a migrant to get to Chicago is not an easy one.

"They are seeing a lot of things, a lot of trauma. A lot of rape. The children are going days without eating. The parents are going days without eating," said Maria Perez, a public health ambassador at nonprofit Southwest Collective. "They are walking through a jungle. We are having cases of malaria come in, broken legs, people coming with all types of issues."

Chicago has received an estimated 38,441 newly arrived migrants since June 2023. Once here, they're shuffled from shelter to shelter as they try to assimilate to a new land, new language, new culture and new way of life.

"I think the first feeling that you start having after you realize now I'm here is, 'Oh I don't belong. I'm not part of this,' and you feel alone," said Victoria Infante, family and community engagement manager for CPS Parent University.

That massive life-altering shift can be trying, Infante said. To better address this migration trauma, Southwest Collective has collaborated with CPS Parent University to start a weekly Community Healing Circle that will provide a hot meal and free group therapy to asylum seekers.

RELATED: City begins moving migrants out of Chicago Park District shelters

"They're talking to somebody about it and sharing what's going on in a group setting, and it's easier for them to express themselves," Perez said. "When you hear somebody else's story, you can relate to it. And once you can relate to it, I feel like you're more comfortable sharing it once you hear that someone else has the same experience or trauma."

A free store called La Tiendita is located in the same building, so migrants can shop from donated items.

Click here to view La Tiendita's Amazon WishList. Donations can also be brought to 2100 South Throop St., Chicago.

Cristal Reyes Cortez migrated from Mexico last fall and said she comes to the store every 15 days. She said they've been very helpful, giving her clothing and toiletries for her three children.

"Do your basic needs shopping. No judgment. Do it with dignity, you're going to feel welcome," Infante said.

The effort provides families with a one-stop shop for things like diapers, shoes, books, nourishment and therapy so they can thrive in a new society on stable ground.

"Safety, belonging, and part of the community is, I think, key. And that will give people hope, stability, and then the desire to thrive," Infante said.

The therapy sessions will take place every Monday starting April 22 at the CPS Parent University in Pilsen.

Para más información sobre Community Healing Circle en español presiona aquí