Peruvian Immigrant Leads Outreach, Activity Group in Spanish

¿Disfrutas de los juegos y las actividades? ¿Vives solo y quieres divertirte con otras personas que también están manejando la vida solos durante la pandemia? Únase a un grupo semanal para juegos interactivos virtuales y otras actividades divertidas que promueven la conexión y las habilidades de afrontamiento. Incluso puede invitar a sus amigos y con gusto los ayudaremos a conectarse para este tiempo divertido.

Cecilia Hayes knows what it’s like to come to Vermont from a vastly different culture. A native of Peru whose first language is Spanish, she spoke no English when she moved here at the age of 22. She worked her way through college to earn a degree in social work while raising her son as a single mom. She knows what it’s like to feel alone in a strange place, to need help and not know where to turn. 

“That’s why I chose the path of social work,” Hayes says. “Because of what I’ve been through myself.” 

¿Necesito hablar? Comuníquese con Cecilia en What’s App en 1-802-304-0562.

Lived Experience Informs Culturally Relevant Counseling

Because of her own lived experience, Hayes now helps other Spanish speakers in the Vermont Latinx community – many of whom are migrant farm workers living under greatly stressful conditions. She guides them to resources that can help them cope with the oftentimes extreme circumstances of their lives. She provides group and one-on-one counseling in concert with local organizations serving the Latinx community. You can find her at the Open Door clinic in Middlebury on a regular basis, where she provides mental health support and counseling to the clinic’s patients from the migrant community. 

Beginning August 26, Hayes is leading a new Spanish support and activity group at COVID Support VT. (Register here.) The weekly virtual group features interactive games and other fun activities that promote connection and healthy coping skills. 

Culturally Sensitive Support for Vermont’s Spanish Speakers

Hayes answers calls to the 2-1-1 “warmline” and is the go-to for anyone who speaks Spanish as a first language.  (You can also call or text her via WhatsApp at 1-802-304-0562.) For the most part, she says, callers are dealing with similar issues regardless of ethnicity: isolation, missing family, dealing with Covid restrictions and how that impacts their ability to work, for example. For immigrants, those stresses are compounded first by the language barrier, and also by cultural barriers. These include not having grown up in the American system, not having family here, having limited resources. Finding a therapist or clinician who speaks their language is a huge barrier to better healthcare. 

“People are so happy when they realize they have someone they can speak to in their native language.”

~ Cecilia Hayes, Support Counselor for COVID Support VT

Find Multilingual Resources, Help and Connections at

COVID Support VT counselor Cecilia Hayes offers services in Spanish, Monday-Friday, 8am-4pm. Each call is confidential and free. You can call or text Cecilia via WhatsApp at 1-802-304-0562.

Meet Cecilia Hayes on vimeo and find out how to connect for help in Spanish.

Find one-click translation to 100 languages of almost everything on the website, plus Multilingual Resources & downloadable materials in 10 languages common to Vermont’s immigrant and refugee communities. 

Learn More

To learn more about the mental health burden of Vermont’s migrant farm worker community and the supports available, read Migrant Workers Face Debilitating Stress on the COVID Support VT blog.

For more on health disparities, read our blog: Covid Reveals Health Equity Shortcomings, Exacerbates Health Disparities.

Blog written by Brenda Patoine on behalf of VCN/Vermont Care Partners for COVID Support Vermont, a grant funded by FEMA and the Vermont Department of Mental Health

Need to Talk?

Call 2-1-1 (in Vermont) for assistance.

In Crisis? 

If you or someone you care for is experiencing thoughts of suicide or self-harm, you can: call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-825; text VT to 741741 to connect with a Crisis Counselor 24/7; connect with your local community mental health center for 24/7 support. 

Find Help

Find resources and tools for coping with stress at

One-click translation to 100 languages of most everything on the website, plus Multilingual Resources.

Find your local community mental health center by visiting Vermont Care Partners.

COVID Support VT is funded by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration and Federal Emergency Management Agency, managed by Vermont’s Department of Mental Health, and administered by Vermont Care Partners, a statewide network of 16 non-profit community-based agencies providing mental health, substance use, and intellectual and developmental disability services and supports. 

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