MUJER staff and some of the donors were all smiles and ready for families coming in for a special holiday distribution.

MUJER staff and some of the donors were all smiles and ready for families coming in for a special holiday distribution   

The holidays bring with them a multitude of emotions.  Adding the anxiety brought by the ravages of the pandemic, and all of us can use some help with our mental health.

The atmosphere at the main MUJER office on Wednesday, December 23, 2020 was festive as they were among the many organizations providing toys and extras to families for the holidays. MUJER is a major provider to the community in promoting, “emotional wellness and stability by empowering individuals through advocacy, direct response to domestic and sexual abuse, and support services.” The staff works closely with local families and they were able to designate 50 to come in to receive special give-aways.

Christina Wyler, who has supported MUJER for more than twenty years, was at the center of making this event possible. A resident of Cherry Grove Village in Kendall, the neighborhood was looking for potential recipients for an even larger contribution than they organized at Thanksgiving. They all agreed with Wyler’s suggestion of helping MUJER. “Everyone gave something,” she said and added groups like the Jewish Federation were also involved. “This is community helping community.” There were enough donations for 100 families; 50 from MUJER and 50 from En Familia. Children were urged to create a “Wish List” as this particular distribution could be personalized. In one case, a donor gave some high-end baby equipment, and the staff knew of a family with a one-month-old infant.

Susan Rubio Rivera, Executive Director for MUJER, explained Wyler has been there for the organization since soon after their post-Hurricane Andrew founding. “We are so grateful for the generosity of them coming together. A

beautiful part of the story is they come to us to ask what they can do.”

As important as the holidays are and as much as MUJER has been throughout the area giving massive assistance in COVID-19 relief, they have now added another service based on adverse impacts of the pandemic. Their “Coping With COVID Emotional Support Hotline” is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week at (768) 829-0099. Yolanda Samaniego, Project Manager, said the hotline became operational earlier in December. Grants made it possible for the line to be staffed by fully licensed therapists. They perform initial screening and can determine if the caller is in need of other resources they have access to.

“There is no charge for the service. Callers who are feeling stressed and overwhelmed may just need someone to talk to.” Samaniego, Brandy Ramirez who is the Executive Assistant to the Director, and Rivera emphasized the new

Hotline is in addition to the Sexual Assault Hotline of (305) 763-2549.

Rivera spoke of the wide range of calls they expect. “It could be an over-stressed mom, an unemployed individual struggling to make ends meet, a hospital worker on the frontlines. We don’t have all the answers, but we do have professionals who can listen and maybe help.”

MUJER’s staff is often augmented by graduate-level interns from major area universities, and other related agencies are frequently on-site to assist in their spectrum of support. 

They provide: Individual and Group Therapy, Care and Services Coordination, Safety Planning, Civil, Legal and Family Services, Emergency Assistance, 24/7 Helplines and In-Person Crisis Intervention and Advocacy, Survivor-led Support Groups, Immigration Services, Victim Compensation, and Accompaniment for Victims to Legal, Medical, and other facilities.

For more information, see http://mujerfla.org

The office phone number is (305) 247-1388, and they are also on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

A testament to the strength of their programs is that almost 70% of clients who seek assistance do so because they have been told by others about MUJER’s successes in helping people who come to them.

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