My desire to help others initially led me to explore a career in counseling. My first counseling position was as a Counselor and Outreach coordinator with the SHINE program, known nationally as the SHIP program. SHINE stands for “Serving the Health Insurance Needs of Elders”, Elders was later changed to “Everyone”. The primary focus of this job was to assist individuals who were receiving Medicare and Medicaid benefits in understanding their insurance and in making informed decisions about supplemental insurance plans. Individuals served included anyone receiving Medicare, typically senior citizens or individuals collecting disability insurance.
I was hired because of my proficiency in speaking Spanish, and I provided counseling and group presentations in both English and Spanish. My job focused on as well as traveling to various senior centers and Latino community centers in central Massachusetts and giving one-on-one counseling with individuals or group presentations.
I also appeared on a public access TV program called, “Medicare y Más” that covered basic Medicare information in Spanish. I was both the host and involved in the planning and editing of this program. Unfortunately, the videos that I was featured in appear to no longer be publically available but you can see an example of the English version of the show here:
However, this was short lived as shortly after the start of this program I transitioned to my position in mental health counseling. My second counseling experience came from my job as a residential counselor for an intensive clinical group living environment (ICGLE) with UMASS Memorial CommunityHealth Link.