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Social Impact Leader, TBRI Practitioner, and Non-Profit Executive Director of The Nurture Place, Angela Gonzalez shares her story of being part of a local Be the Bridge group on this episode of the Be the Bridge Podcast with Latasha Morrison during Hispanic + Latine Heritage Month. They discuss how creating brave spaces allows people to share, learn, grow, and lament together.

Angela passionately talks about why we should all be trauma-informed and be community focused. And she also shares why it is important for people receiving mental health care to see therapists that look like them. You will hear a call for churches and faith leaders to refer people to mental health care professionals. Latasha and Angela discuss the obstacles they have to overcome being leaders who are women of color.

This is a conversation that shares the impact of local Be the Bridge groups and that will help break the stigmas surrounding mental health!


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Host & Executive Producer – Latasha Morrison
Senior Producer – Lauren C. Brown
Producer, Editor, & Music – Travon Potts with Integrated Entertainment Studios
Assistant Producer & Transcriber – Sarah Connatser

Quotes:

“A lot of the other things around us will burn, but God’s justice will always prevail.” -Latasha Morrison

“Instead of asking the question: what is wrong with you? We ask the question: what happened to you? And that is a more compassionate way of seeing the world.” -Angela Gonzalez

“Therapists can help us to heal and become the people that we are supposed to be.” -Angela Gonzalez

“There’s not one group of people that can represent the totality of who God is. It takes every nation and every tribe. And when we fight against diversity, we’re fighting against the will of God. We’re fighting against the essence of who God is.” -Latasha Morrison

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Resources Mentioned:

Trust-Based Relational Intervention

Be the Bridge local groups

Connect with Angela Gonzalez:
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The Nurture Place Website
The Nurture Place Instagram
The Nurture Place Facebook

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Connect with Latasha Morrison:
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Not all views expressed in this interview reflect the values and beliefs of Latasha Morrison or the Be the Bridge organization.

Narrator
You are listening to the Be the Bridge Podcast with Latasha Morrison.

 

Latasha Morrison
[intro] How are you guys doing today? It’s exciting!

Narrator
Each week, Be the Bridge Podcast tackles subjects related to race and culture with the goal of bringing understanding.

Latasha Morrison
[intro] …but I’m going to do it in the spirit of love.

Narrator
We believe understanding can move us toward racial healing, racial equity, and racial unity. Latasha Morrison is the founder of Be the Bridge, which is an organization responding to racial brokenness and systemic injustice in our world. This podcast is an extension of our vision to make sure people are no longer conditioned by a racialized society, but grounded in truth. If you have not hit the subscribe button, please do so now. Without further ado, let’s begin today’s podcast. Oh, and stick around for some important information at the end.

Latasha Morrison
Welcome to the Be the Bridge Podcast!

Angela Gonzalez
Yes!

Latasha Morrison
So I have a special guest. And this person is from our community. So I’m gonna tell you a little bit about who she is. And I’m so excited to have her on here and to learn from her today. Her name is Angela Gonzalez. And she’s been married to her husband Felix for 25 years. They have three daughters. Oh, I’m praying praying for you, Angela. (laughter)

Angela Gonzalez
Please.

Latasha Morrison
Angela worked in the healthcare industry at various positions in organizations for more than 15 years. However, the last eight years she’s focused her time on co-founding and developing best practice of family support for adoptive and foster families. Angela and her husband are adoptive parents and understand the importance of high quality trauma-informed and holistic approaches to aid children and families healing from complex developmental trauma. She knows there’s no single approach that works for everyone. So her desire is to help make accessible a more integrated program for all families. She is passionate about social justice causes with a specific focus in diversity and caring for vulnerable children. She deeply cares about the importance for every community to become trauma-informed in turn creating safe and empathetic environments where each child, adult, and family can be strengthened and thrive. Now as an adoptive parent, Angela understands the importance of becoming trauma-informed so she has been certified, she’s a TBRI Certified Practitioner, and she is a trauma-informed certified facilitator. And I’ll let her jump into all the things that she’s doing. She is the Executive Director of The Nurture Place, a mental wellness movement in Orlando, Florida. So, Angela, that was a mouthful. And I know some people are hearing they’re like, “Okay, what was this? What was this?” Listen, you want to listen. You want to make sure that you tune in. I mean, because this is the thing. We understand that trauma is impacting not just ourselves personally, but our community and those around us. And so having people like her with expertise in helping us, giving us tools, resources, or even pointing us to tools and resources is what we all need. And so I’m so grateful that you are a part of the Be the Bridge community and family. And I’m grateful to have you on here. Welcome, Angela!

Angela Gonzalez
Thank you so much, Latasha! I am so excited to be here and just get to talk to you and share information and ideas and thoughts and stories about what goes on in our lives. So thank you so much for having me on. I really, really appreciate it.

Latasha Morrison
Yeah, I want to jump in because we’re talking to the Be the Bridge community. And the thing is there are over 2000 groups across this country and globally. So this is a big family. This is a large community. And we’re working on ways now that we can connect the community outside of social media to one another. So we’re working on some connection points. So it’s good for us to know who is in our community. And I just want to know, how did you find out about Be the Bridge? How did you start leading a local group and what was that like? And you know, because we have a lot of people who are leading or thinking about starting a group or some people who want to become a part of a group. How did you get involved with Be the Bridge?

Angela Gonzalez
So I have always been very in tune to advocacy and social justice. And I was part of a church who I think we needed to bring some conversations into place about race and justice. So I started doing my research. I found Be the Bridge, I looked it over, and I said, “Wow, this is an incredible space and an incredible curriculum that we can bring in. It can start the conversations that need to be started.” Unfortunately, that faith community didn’t allow us to hold this space. However, there was another faith community who, actually one of the ladies co-led the group with me. There were two other incredible women who co-led the group with me. And she was a pastor at the time, she opened her community, and we were able to start the conversations. This was during, a little bit past the 2020 events. And I think just people needed that safe space to talk and have this conversation. Whether you were a Black or Brown person who needed to share the things that have happened and the things that are happening and the hurt and the lament and the grief that was happening. But we also had some incredible white allies who wanted to learn, who wanted to understand. And so what a great opportunity for us to gather together. I think, I’m not sure exactly how many people we had. But we had close to 15 people. And it was a wonderful group. It was three of us leading the conversations. And it was a group that really created the safe environment for us to share our deepest hurts, but also to be heard and valued and seen. And that’s what you want in a group. Right? We want safe spaces to share our stories and the things that are going on within our hearts, but also outside of in our communities, whether it’s a faith community or organizations where we are.

Latasha Morrison
Yes, thank you for sharing. I’m so glad that you found that space. And I’m glad that your your space felt safe to you. Because so many times we use the term brave spaces, because, you know, a lot of times what’s safe for me may not be safe for you. But the fact that you guys were able to find that safe space is incredible. And I love what you said. You said, we went to one faith community and they weren’t willing, but you went to another. So you found another place of peace, a person of peace to open the doors. And I want to encourage you guys, that’s why I started Be the Bridge. And it’s designed in a way that it can be led by people in the community. You don’t have to have a seminary degree or, you know, to lead it. And so I think that is, you know, what people are doing, if the church is fearful in having the conversation, if the church is not on board, then people are able to take this in their communities, in schools, in their workplace, or just fine friends in your neighborhood that are interested in really delving deep and being a part of the solution and not a part of the problem. You’re ready for what we call discipleship, because this is discipleship. And so I’m so grateful that you guys did not give up. Because a lot of times people hear, if it’s rejected, they’re like, “Then what do we do?” And this is the thing like this is we are the body of Christ. We are a part of the Kingdom of God.

Angela Gonzalez
Yes.

Latasha Morrison
We are all ministers. You know? And so when it comes to our spiritual formation and our discipleship and growth, we have to take that into our own hands sometimes. And you know, what I say is we go with those who want to go.

Angela Gonzalez
Yes! Absolutely.

Latasha Morrison
Sometimes you gotta go in order to go. So I’m grateful for your commitment.

Angela Gonzalez
Yes, thank you.

Latasha Morrison
You know what, you know, you talk about the heaviness. And this is the thing, Be the Bridge was around before you know, it was around before 2020. It’s around now. You know, I tell people that we are not reactive, we are proactive, because things are going to happen. And sometimes when people don’t see the value of what you’re doing, the work that you’re doing, eventually they may need that very work that you’re doing. And you know, this is a, I always say that this is a marathon. And you have people now where who have gone silent who were, you know, all in in 2020. But one little wave come to kind of, you know, scare people or to make people fearful. A lot of people jumped off the boat.

Angela Gonzalez
100% yes.

Latasha Morrison
But then there’s a lot of us that’s still on the boat, and we’re rowing. And we’re gonna continue to row. And while everybody else tries to get their bearings, we are focused. We understand the mission. We understand what we’re dealing with. We are committed to this because we are committed to our faith in Jesus. And so I’m just grateful for you. What kind of encouragement and support did the group provide during the heaviness that we’ve had over (I want to say, really the past decade) but definitely over the last three to four years? What kind of support and encouragement did your group provide?

Angela Gonzalez
Yeah, I think one of the biggest things that happened to Black and Brown people was, and I’m talking for me, I think the other two ladies that co-led with me, they were way ahead of where I was. And I was learning a little bit more as a Brown woman, and the events of 2020 really gave me the language to understand why things were happening. And so I knew something, I have experienced some things within faith communities within our world. But I didn’t really understand or have the language to explain what it was. Right? And so for me personally, it was a space, and I love that you said brave spaces. Thank you for saying that. Yes, they are brave spaces. Because even when people sometimes share, “This is a safe space, sometimes it is not.” And so we have to be very aware and vulnerable to be able to open up what our hearts for that specific space. But yes, this brave space allowed us and allowed me and some other people to verbalize and to have language of the experiences that we were having within our environment. And so those experiences that we needed to voice and be heard, and other people listening. And also understanding, “Oh, I get this. So in this situation, this is what is happening. And let me listen.” So it just, I think it facilitated the practices of listening, the practices of kindness, the practices of compassion, the practices of, “Your story is different than mine, but that doesn’t mean that we are not both loved by God and Jesus.” Right? So it just facilitated this brave space to start conversation, have those hard conversations. And it grew us, all of us, whether we were Black or Brown people or we were white folks in the group. And it grew us all. And from this group we have continued to, there’s a group, not all of us, but some of us continue to meet on a monthly basis. And we meet over, we break bread together. I call it we break bread, because that’s a sacred space for us to be able to share a meal and be with each other and talk about the things that are going on in our world. Because, of course, you know, like you said, like things are changing, and people kind of let things go, but this work will always be there. Because it’s the work of Jesus. The work of justice is the work of God, it’s the work of what we are supposed to do as we are the church. Right? We’re walking on this earth as the church, not the actual building, per se.

Latasha Morrison
Yeah, yeah. I love what you just said, you know, this is the work of the church. This is about biblical justice. And so that’s at the center of the work that we do with Be the Bridge. As we know, a lot of the other things around us will burn but God’s justice will always prevail. And so we’re fighting for that. You know? To see that manifested for everyone so that we have the flourishing of everyone. And so I loved one of the things you know, you said like you were a learner in this also. You were listening. Because we all have different lived experiences. We’re not a monolith. And we were raised in different parts of the country, different families. We also know that you know, our country doesn’t teach correct narratives to history. And so we are a lot of times victims of that in the sense where we don’t have context, historical context. So we don’t have like a common memory. We don’t have a common language.

Angela Gonzalez
Right.

Latasha Morrison
There’s no common history. And so, but what I’ve seen is once we begin to connect those dots, we give people context, we see transformation of heart. I think that’s what the fear is of people in teaching truth. Because the truth sets us free.

Angela Gonzalez
Yes.

Latasha Morrison
And a lot of times in that work there’s transformation and there’s shifting that happens, there’s shifting to should be lifting up Jesus, you know, and our selves should be decreasing. But a lot of times when that happens, that changes power dynamics. And people don’t like that. So we see a lot of pushback from that. Now, if you’re, you know, there’s a lot of people listening right now. And, you know, we know that people are like, kind of paralyzed right now. People are silent as it relates to things that are happening. People are fearful. And you know, that is how I believe that is some of the things is stifling the growth of this work. And if someone is listening right now, and they’re thinking about starting a local group at their church, in their community, what encouragement would you give them in taking that step and to begin engaging in this conversation and becoming a part of a group are either starting a group?

Angela Gonzalez
I think, even you know, as I shared, that one faith community didn’t want to really host that group. It’s okay. It’s okay to receive a no from someone. Right? There are people out there who are with us in this work. There are people who are willing and wanting and desiring to have the conversations, to learn to be in diverse groups. So don’t give up. That’s my, like my encouragement, Don’t give up. A no from one place doesn’t mean a no from another. And a no from a group of people doesn’t mean no from another. Just keep moving forward. Because the Spirit of God is at work and we don’t even know where he is working at the moment. Right? He’s working everywhere. And he may be working in someone’s heart that desires to be in a group like this with people who are different, who they want to be open to different friendships and diversity and in listening to stories, and you may be the person that says, “Hey, let’s go together, let’s break bread together, or just hang out together, drink coffee, and let’s talk about this conversations.”

Latasha Morrison
Yeah, we’re gonna pivot to your work and talk a little bit about the work that you’re doing it The Nurture Place. But before we do that, I want to find out as a Latina woman, like, you know, how have you found value in leaning into this conversation?

Angela Gonzalez
Wow, I think many Brown people and I’m just going to speak for myself, of course, because I don’t want to hold everybody’s perspective. But I think that there’s a big majority of, or a big group of Latino, Brown people who have like myself, we are adaptable. And we want to be loved. And we want to be a part of our culture. And when I’m saying culture, I’m meaning American culture and in some ways we lost our identity. Right? And so I think, for me, I really adopted this narrative of, “I want to be accepted in these white spaces.” Whether it’s a school when I was going to school or whether it was church when I was going to church. And therefore I let go a lot of my heritage. I let go a lot of the things that really make me me. Right? Not consciously, but unconsciously. I was letting those things or seeing those things as not as good enough. Or, you know, “I need to be this in order to feel like a complete person.” So as I started kind of this kind of process started before 2020, of course for me, being in a predominantly white faith community, I started kind of just asking these questions of like, “Okay, why did they do this and why did they do that?” And then, you know, “Can we have more diversity? And what does this mean to be diverse and they say they’re diverse, but the leadership is not diverse.” And so I’m asking questions, and I’m trying to figure out myself. So it was more of like, I’ve always been a justice driven type of person. But it also had to, I had to do the process, and go through that myself. And so doing this work on my own, learning from my Black friends and my Black community, it makes me more whole. Right? And it has helped me to process what it looks like for me to be a Latino woman in my environment, in my community, doing the work that I do, and in my faith with the divine. How does that look like with for me? How does my relationship with God, you know, is it different or is it the same? I mean, there’s so many questions and so many things. And I think it is a process that it doesn’t have to end. Right? Like, we continue to process, we continue to grow, we continue to evolve. And I am in the process. And I love it, I love where I am.

Latasha Morrison
Yeah, and there’s so many people that’s going to help, that are wrestling with the same thing. You know? Where there’s a part of themselves that they have lost because when we talk about culture and language and the beauty of how we’re created, our diversity that is of God. God created that. And so God has always been in the business of diversity from Genesis one to Revelation. You see this beautiful biblical history, this mosaic tapestry of different cultures and nations and tribes, that we see intertwined telling this beautiful story of this redemptive Savior. And I think, you know, I always say, you know, that there’s not one group of people that can represent the totality of who God is. It takes every nation and every tribe. And when we fight against diversity, we’re fighting against the will of God. We’re fighting against the essence of who God is. And when we look at the nature, when we look at the beauty of nature, it’s not a monolith.

Angela Gonzalez
No!

Latasha Morrison
The beautiful tapestry of what’s in the ocean. God has always been in the business of creation, and diversity within that creation. And that is not something to make us to bring sorrow or to make us mourn or to make us angry, that is something that we must celebrate. And so we must really reject what is happening in culture now, to make us think that diverse and creating communities of belonging because of our differences, is something that that is wrong. We Have to look at scripture and see how God created space for all of that. And so I’m so grateful for you. Now, like you are a TBRI Practitioner. Can you tell us what TBRI is and why you are so passionate about helping others be trauma-informed?

Angela Gonzalez
Absolutely! TBRI is an acronym for trust based relational intervention. It is a trauma informed approach to vulnerable children. However, it’s an approach that we can utilize with all children, with any adult who has experienced complex trauma. And I say every individual working with people needs to be a trauma-informed individual because if we are a trauma-informed community, we can see beyond the behaviors of people, beyond the behaviors of children, beyond the behaviors of teenagers, and see them more with a compassionate and empathetic heart. And trauma is all around us. We just don’t see it. We may be in the grocery store buying groceries and there’s somebody that just flipped their lid, like we call it, that is having a behavior but if we have that compassion and we are informed about what trauma and adversity does to people, we are able to see them in a different light. And we’re asking them a different question, instead of asking the question, what was wrong with you? We ask the questions what happened to you? And that is a more compassionate way of seeing the world. With more kindness. And I love that, I love that the work that this work that, you know, this approach is it’s very, we can utilize it anywhere.

AD BREAK

Latasha Morrison
How has, you know, this trauma informed therapy, this TBRI I think we said, how has this helped you in this work? Like, like how have you, because you’re basically, this is what you do. And then you’re experiencing this. And then you’re, you know, we have all the things that’s happening in our world, right now. How is this growing up personally for you in your life?

Angela Gonzalez
Yeah, I think the work that we all do and how God created us and our purpose and all of that is so intertwined. Right? And I get to do the work that I do, because I am passionate about seeing families thrive. I’m passionate about children and individuals seeking healing and growth, and that we can make a difference in our world. But we can also break cycles of intergenerational trauma, and adversity. And so I became a TBRI Practitioner, because we are an adoptive family, and I wanted to help my child. And as I am doing this work, I am learning more and more and more, and I’m growing, and I’m seeing that trauma and adversity is not just for that group. Yes, of course, they’ve experienced trauma and adversity. But it extends beyond that. And as a minority woman, as a minority immigrant woman, I have seen it in my communities. Right? We’ve seen it communities. And of course, trauma and adversity it’s not just experienced by minorities, only. Anyone can experience trauma and adversity. However, there’s additional adversities when it comes to race, when it comes to being a woman. And you know, there’s different layers, if you will, of trauma. And so, it became really evident to me that the work that I wanted to do and how passionate I became about becoming a trauma-informed family, it had to transpire. And it has to be multiplied in helping other families become trauma-informed, helping communities become trauma-informed. So therefore, when they are working with people, if you’re a nonprofit, and you’re working with the homeless population, you understand the why and the reason why some of these things happen. And it gives us the compassion and that greater empathy that only, I believe that this greater empathy comes from the Divine, from God, from who He wants us and who He created us to be. So, yes.

Latasha Morrison
That’s good. You’ve shared how important it is to create jobs and opportunities for those that are considered, you know, marginalized by the community and those who that represents clients that you that that you see. You say that because of that, “It requires a longer time of vetting and being able to find the right people and those who are supportive of providing safe, inclusive, and equitable spaces.” Can you talk a little bit about why it’s important to create those opportunities to raise up women of color? Which takes time. You know, a lot of times we want it quick, fast, and in a hurry. But why is it important to raise that women of color in mental health care careers?

Angela Gonzalez
Yes, The Nurture Place, when we founded The Nurture Place, we created it with the purpose of making a social impact, to bring mental wellness programs into our communities so people can heal and grow and they can thrive. But I do believe that it has to start in house. And my desire is that this social impact, it’s also for the people that work with us, the therapists that work with us, the facilitators that work with us, the volunteers that come and do this work. And so, and I believe that every organization needs to be trauma-informed. Right? And every organization needs to work on becoming a diverse organization, and not just the people that you hire, but everyone – the leadership, the board, your elders group if you’re a church, whatever organization we have to start from the top. I want our families, our Black and Brown, all families to be able to walk into the doors of our space and be able to see a therapist who looks like them, who understands them, who understands the different nuances of who we are and how we do things. And in the mental health world, only 8% of mental health providers are Black, another 8% are Brown, 79 are white 79% are white, and the rest are just other ethnicities. So we can see the gap. So when are Black and Brown families come into the door, the majority of the time, you’re going to see a white therapist being your therapist. And we’re missing the point. We want to see diversity in every job or, you know, in doctors and therapists and churches, whatever area, whatever environment you’re in. So that’s why it’s so important. For me personally, like this has been my personal, that I want to empower my young women, I want to empower my young Brown and Black women to have the tools and the things that they need in order for them to become therapists, in order for them to do what they want, what they feel called to do, they feel called to work in the community.

Latasha Morrison
Yeah, that’s so good. Because I think, you know, a lot of times right now, you know, like, when we talk about mental health and therapy, that’s a taboo topic. Because it depends on your family background, it depends on your cultural background. And especially when we think about the medical industry and how it’s been abused, and then how it has had been plighted with systemic injustice, racial injustice. And so there’s a distrust already that you’re leading with within that space. And so, when we talk about getting more Brown women and men to actually pursue that path, you know, that’s difficult. So right now, where, you know, trauma is high. There are so many things happening, you know, between gun violence and all the things that are happening in our society. And as people are finally getting the strength to seek out help or seek out, you know, if you can overcome the hurdles of how do you pay for it? Insurance? Healthcare? All these different things, and then you seek it out. And then you, you know, you’re trying to find someone that you feel that you can connect with or that understands your trauma. Especially, like, for me, someone who’s in this work, you’re looking for people who understand racial trauma, and everybody that’s not what is really being taught in healthcare practices a lot of times. And so it’s hard to even find that. And so you’re looking for someone that can understand, you know, your experiences. And so I think that’s important. I was just really reading about, like, you know, just even in the psychology field, because of the amount of school that it takes to get degrees in order to do this, that that wipes out a whole group of people. And so those are things that we have to look at from upstream and not downstream. And it’s like, how do we make this more equitable, so that people can actually go into this field? And how do we make sure that people who are currently practicing are getting all the tools and resources that they need to better help all people and not just some people? And so I think that’s a lot.

Angela Gonzalez
It is a lot. And I, you know, I do know that it’s a lot. And more people need to get into this space of thinking about all the different challenges that come from becoming a mental health therapist. And there are much time and hours that you need to have in front of people that are unpaid. And so how does a person that doesn’t have the resources become a therapist and surviving at the same time. So we have to find ways to do this. And of course, everything requires money. Everything requires funding from people that believe in this type of work. And it requires the small organizations and nonprofits like ours and the big organizations and nonprofits like the big ones out there in our nation. Right, we have so many, but we do all have to start from this place of the social impact starts in house, with the people that we have. How can I empower them? How can I bring the resources that they need so they can, in turn, turn around and become the mental health providers, psychologists, psychiatrists, all of the things to represent our populations and diverse populations. Right?

Latasha Morrison
Yeah, yeah, yeah. And you do it one step at a time. I love you know, like, your work and the work of Be the Bridge, we, you know, it’s very community focused. And we are living in a world that’s very individualistically focused, the Western worldview is very individualistic. And you know, but when we look at Christianity, it’s communal, It’s about the community, it’s about the community of believers. How is our mental wellness connected to one another? And what does having a  neighborhood model of care mean?

Angela Gonzalez
Yeah, I think, like you said, and this is such a great, yeah. Because I talk about this all the time. Our communities, our Black and Brown communities are very community minded. Right? Although we live in the West, and although we are part Americans, we also have this individualistic mentality. Right? But what a legacy for us to be able to receive from our ancestors, that we can carry this community. And when I’m making decisions about the work that you do or the space that you occupy in, you know, whatever you are or you work or your faith communities, I am thinking about the community at large. When I’m making decisions, I’m thinking about my community, and how am I, how is this going to impact my family? How is this going to impact our neighbors? How is this bringing healing to the entire community? Right? And it is, to me, it’s so highly important to have this, to honor these views in our Black and Brown communities, in our minority communities, this community minded view of how we see the world and how we can create space for us in this environment.

Latasha Morrison
Yeah, yeah. And I know, just speaking as one woman of color to another, I know how difficult it is to lead a nonprofit organization, you know, trying to tap into social capital, you know, all of the things when people sometimes don’t look as you as a leader because of your skin color. And then also to be a woman in a lot of Christian spaces and leading. What kind of challenges have you faced in that?

Angela Gonzalez
Wow. Yeah, I think you and I understand, like, what the challenges are. But speaking to everyone that listens to our group, you know, as a minority, as an immigrant, as a female nonprofit leader, as a woman who has an accent because I came here when I was 13 years old, like, there’s so many challenges. And there’s so many layers of challenge. But I think probably one of the biggest challenge is that, and you know this, that we have to work two, three times harder than anyone else to achieve anything, I have to work two to three times higher to raise funding, because funding capital for nonprofits is mostly given by white males. And so the tendency is to give this funding to other white males. And it’s just harder. Everything is harder for us. Whether we’re asking for funding for grants or we’re asking funding for like, we have a building capitol right now. You know, “Can you become part of us building this incredible community center of wellness in our community?” It’s harder for people to choose me – a minority woman, an immigrant woman, with an accent, female, like, I mean, like all the things. Right?

Latasha Morrison
Yeah. Yeah.

Angela Gonzalez
So yeah, there are many, many challenges. Challenges of being actually heard. You know? “These are the problems in our communities. This is how we can, what we can do it, what our organization can do to solve part of these problems.” But then actually heard, it’s a little bit more challenging. And so, and so the challenges are many, however, I do want to say that alongside of those that I know that there are amazing people out there that are also supporting and that are also listening and that are also willing to hear our story, hear the work that we’re doing, and be able to fund us. And so we just continue to do the work. We continue to have access to some of the places that we need to have access. Continue knocking on the door, continue saying hello, continuing that work. Because ultimately, how I see it is that it’s not my work. It’s the work of the community. It’s the work of all of us. Having healing and, you know, mental health is a big part of it, like we have to, it’s the body, mind and soul thing, right? Like we are spirit and the Divine is there and, you know, God is nurturing our hearts and our souls. And then we have physicians to do the other work. And, you know, therapists can help us to heal and become the people that we were supposed to be.

Latasha Morrison
Right. And I think that’s so important, you know, especially in this day and age, it’s like as philanthropists and funders, you know, this is something that I think they have to have training on. So that’s why even the work that we do, we have a lot of business people, funders, practitioners, that are looking to broaden the redemptive story, and more inclusive and creating a sense of belonging. And so they’re examining the lens that they’re looking through, and making sure that they’re not just being shaped by societal norms. But they’re looking and being intentional and strategic to be, you know, inclusive as it relates to the work that’s been done. So, you know, I’m with you in that. And I do feel like, there are some people who are getting it.

Angela Gonzalez
Yes.

Latasha Morrison
And, communities that I’m a part of that are having these types of conversations, you know, talking about the imbalance that we have. As we get ready to close, you know, when we talk about mental wellness, and, you know, how can the church better support this? And I know, especially, you know, when we talk about our communities. In some communities it’s just very normal, like, to talk about therapy and all these things. But I know in my community it’s like, “You’re gonna have people messing in your head,” or, you know, “You just need to pray,” or “You need to go to sleep.” (laughter) Like, that’s the answer for these questions. You know, how can the church better support mental wellness, especially in the Spanish speaking communities?

Angela Gonzalez
Yeah. I think at large we need to acknowledge that God, like I said, earlier, God created us body, mind, and soul beings. Right? We need physicians to treat our bodies, we need the divine to nurture our souls, we need mental wellness providers to help us navigate our fallen world. And I believe that churches have a special place in a special, I don’t want to call it authority, but if it’s well used, they’re able to influence this part of becoming a mental health and mental wellness environment, safe environment, a brave environment. And I do believe that leadership within the churches within the faith community, especially pastors, we need to need to have a special humility, to say, “This is out of my scope of practice, you know, out of my scope right now, and this type of challenge that you’re having,” whether it’s suicide or domestic violence, or whatever it is, “needs to be addressed by a professional. Let me refer you to that professional.” Because I think sometimes church, as churches and as church leadership, we think we have to know all the answers and that we have to give an answer. Yes, God is the answer. Of course that’s the answer, but there are different ways of also becoming healthy. And so if as pastors, as leadership, we can humbly say, “This is something that we need to refer you to.” And sending people and referring people to professionals, professional mental counselors, professional psychologists, professional psychiatrists is very, very important. And it can be done, but we all have to be on the same page. Right? In the Spanish community now, or minority communities, I think the biggest challenge is that we’re doing two things. We are tasked with providing services for our families to be able to become healthy and understand and grow and all of that. But we’re also simultaneously training them and educating on the importance of mental health. Right? Because in our communities it is something that we didn’t hear about. And if we heard about it it’s like a negative stigma. Right? It’s just something that like, “You don’t go to a mental health counselor, like what’s wrong with you?” You know what I mean? “Like, what’s wrong with you?” But so we’re doing double work, we’re providing the services and we’re educating. And we’re letting people know, like, no, like, we are whole. Like, yes, we’re our body like body, mind, and soul. And that wholeness is what makes us who we are in being a space that we feel, heal, and growing.

Latasha Morrison
Yeah, education is key. And you know, I’m dealing with, you know, with some of this even in my own personal family. You know, there’s still such a stigma. And so this is, you know, I’m grateful for people like yourself, that are in the trenches doing this. And your work is so needed and so valuable. I’m better for knowing you. And I’m so glad that we were able to talk about this on the podcast and really share this with people. And maybe people can share this podcast? You know? So people can see like, there are organizations of people who are out here doing this, we just have to tap in to what they’re doing. You know, for The Nurture Place your website “envisions that trauma informed community, where we go from thinking, ‘what is wrong with you?’ to ‘what happened to you?’ increasing empathy in the classroom, preschools, and organizations.” Increasing empathy would do so much. You know, if you’re listening, and want to learn more about trauma informed therapy, check out The Nurture Place. Angela Gonzalez is doing a beautiful job in Orlando. She needs people to lock arms with her and support. And so I’m so grateful for this work, it is needed for such a time as this.

Angela Gonzalez
Yes.

Latasha Morrison
You have no idea, when we think about everything that’s happening on the news. Think about this, all the things that we’re seeing. If we would replace that question with what happened to you? You know? Like, what happened? And how have we been a part of it in some ways? How has society been a part of it? And how can we stop this from happening again? And so there are answers. There is resolution. It’s not an easy road, it is a tough road. It is sacrifice, it will cost us. It will cost us. But if we deeply care about people, if we deeply care about each other, we’re willing to take the chance, make the sacrifice, to really bring about change. And I believe it starts with self. It starts with self. So, you know, one of the things that I ask people, as we close, what are some things that, you know, there’s a lot to lament right now. There’s a lot to lament. What is something that you’re lamenting right now? And then what is something that’s bringing you hope?

Angela Gonzalez
Oh, wow. I am lamenting the way that we are treating people. And it’s like, the way that minorities and immigrants and the different. Right? How we treat others who are different than us that I’m lamenting. And I think I will continue to lament that for for a long, long time. I am lamenting the hardened hearts. I am lamenting what our communities go through. Because when we see the people and we actually share stories with people, it’s hard to hate them. It’s hard to hate people when we are breaking bread together. It’s hard to hate people when we get to know that they are mothers and fathers just like we are, that they suffer, that they have health issues, that they have all these other things. So I am lamenting that. What is bringing me hope? What does bring me hope right now and I think it’s been there for many years is our younger generation. Our younger generation has a heart for justice that is impressive. And I am so hopeful for that. And I’m so hopeful for the many things that the younger generations are able to do, because they do have the empathy and they do have the compassion and they do want to serve their communities with integrity and making justice their thing too. And so that’s what I’m hopeful for. And, in all of that, of course, in all of that is the hopefulness is that God is the one generating this, everything. You know, the positive, all the things. Like the work that you do, Latasha, it’s so important. And because it propels, it continues to propel people who are seeking justice. And so it propelled me when I went through the curriculum. And I hope that he propelled many in our group to continue that work and continue this conversation. So thank you for, in a way, kind of linking arms with us that we are doing similar work in different spaces but similar work, the work of justice through different venues. Right? So thank you for having me. I so appreciate it.

Latasha Morrison
Yeah, thank you. And I, you know, this has said often, but we are truly better together.

Angela Gonzalez
Yes.

Latasha Morrison
You know, and it’s an honor to lock arms with you and to, you know, let the community know about The Nurture Place and really, you know, praying that people seek you out, seek this work out. And then those of us who are listening that we remove the stigma of therapy and trauma and all the things, you know, all those layers, and we seek out the help that we need. So thank you for the work that you’re doing. And thank you so much for being on the Be the Bridge Podcast.

Angela Gonzalez
Thank you so much. Thank you.

Latasha Morrison
And most importantly, thank you for being a part of the Be the Bridge community.

Angela Gonzalez
Yes! I love it!

Latasha Morrison
Thank you so much.

Narrator
Thanks for listening to the Be the Bridge Podcast. To find out more about the Be the Bridge organization and or to become a bridge builder in your community, go to BetheBridge.com. Again, that’s BetheBridge.com. If you’ve enjoyed this podcast, remember to rate and review it on this platform and share it with as many people as you possibly can. You can also connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Today’s show was edited, recorded, and produced by Travon Potts at Integrated Entertainment Studios in metro Atlanta, Georgia. The host and executive producer is Latasha Morrison. Lauren C. Brown is the Senior Producer. And transcribed by Sarah Connatser. Please join us next time. This has been a Be the Bridge production.