Dougy Center's Esperanza Program Resumes In-Person Peer Support for Grieving Spanish-Speaking Families

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Dougy Center's Esperanza program, a unique Spanish-English language peer grief support group, is returning to in-person groups. After a few years of virtual meetings due to the pandemic, the Esperanza program will offer in-person peer grief support starting Saturday, May 4, providing a safe space for children, adolescents, and families in the Latino community to share their experiences around grief and find solace in their native language.

Esperanza, which means "hope" in Spanish, has been a vital resource for the Latino community in Portland since 2006. The program offers free, ongoing support groups for children as young as six, along with their parents and caregivers. Recognizing the cultural differences in how grief is processed and expressed, Esperanza provides a much-needed space for Spanish-speaking families to grieve openly and authentically, without the pressure of societal timelines.

"In Latin American culture, the concept of grief support groups is not nearly as common as it is here in the U.S.," said Cristina Chipriano, L.C.S.W., Esperanza Program Coordinator and Dougy Center Director of Equity and Community Outreach. "In addition, many in our community are grieving the loss of a loved one who lived outside of the U.S., or are going through their grief journey far from the support of their extended family. Having a dedicated space where

Spanish-speaking families can come together, share their stories, and support one another for as long as they need is truly unique and invaluable, especially for those who may feel isolated in their grief."

The Esperanza program is led by trained bilingual and bicultural volunteers who understand the importance of expressing emotion through one's native language. Groups meet every other Saturday afternoon, accommodating families who may work evening or overnight shifts during the week.

In addition to the Esperanza program, Dougy Center provides free online toolkits and resources in Spanish for children, teens, parents and caregivers, and helping professionals. Resources include tip sheets and activities on a variety of topics, including support after a death from COVID-19, special ways to remember and honor the person who died, developmental responses to grief in children and teens, tips for supporting families, and more. Dougy Center’s resources in Spanish can be found at

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