The work of Rebecca Robles-Pina, Sam Houston State University associate professor of educational leadership and counseling, has made a $50,000 difference for an area agency that helps youths and families.
The Hogg Foundation for Mental Health awarded the grant to Montgomery County Youth Services in Conroe, an agency that caters to low-income families in the county who can’t afford to pay for mental health services, last summer after Robles-Pina assisted in the application process.
“We (SHSU and MCYS) have a long-standing relationship,” Robles-Pina said. “I do other evaluation stuff for them, and we collaborate on many projects.
“We send our interns from the counseling department (to work there),” she said.
The grant will be used through this May to provide counseling services to families affected by violence, according to Robles-Pina, who said she learned of the funding opportunity from the foundation’s Web site, then approached MCYS therapist Dana Longino about writing a grant proposal.
“The money was used to hire a counselor to work with the families that are engaged in domestic violence,” she said. “We’re looking at dynamics within the family and also how they correlate with some of the psychological problems that the child is having.”
Serving as the external evaluator of the grant, Robles-Pina supervises the counseling and treatments and evaluates the data collected in order to write midterm and year-end reports.
“That’s my research interest; I’m a psychologist,” she said, adding that she will be writing professional papers based on the project as well.
“I try to write grants that bring money in for looking at and improving the situations for families, youth, and I also work in schools.”
Robles-Pina said she sees the project as something positive for both the university and the community, not only from the standpoint of building a good rapport between the two but for the people involved as well.
“As a university, I think sometimes we’re very far removed from real-life problems, so this is a very good way in which the university and agencies in the community can collaborate to help children, youth and families,” she said. “I think it’s a very good idea for the university to collaborate with agencies in the community to help solve real-life problems.”
The Hogg Foundation for Mental Health is an administrative unit of The University of Texas at Austin and has managed both operating programs and grant-making activities in support of mental health services, research, public policy and education programs in Texas for more than 60 years.