‘Cuba Cares’ vows to continue beyond the pandemic

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CUBA, N.M. — A clinical social worker from Cuba was highlighted in the Sept. 13 issue of TIME Magazine for her work during the pandemic.

Victoria Dominguez, the Community Schools Director for Cuba Independent Schools, is also the founder of ‘Cuba Cares,’ a program many northern New Mexico students consider a lifeline.

"Cuba Cares is an outreach program that is housed through the district and what we do is we really try to support families with whatever they’re needing," Dominguez said.

Items include clothing, food and hygiene products. According to Dominguez, everything is free and students can take as much as they want since hundreds of students in the district face instability at home, homelessness, domestic violence and food insecurity.

"Cuba is currently the number one, most at-risk school district in the state of New Mexico,” Dominguez said.

Other students struggle with depression and suicidal ideation, so ‘Cuba Cares’ not only focuses on the physical needs of students but their social and emotional needs as well.

"We have many counselors throughout the district,” Dominguez said. “We have a whole Indigenous education department."

The program started in March 2020 when the pandemic made it even harder for families to get a hold of basic necessities.

"This started with one clothing drive in the community of Cuba,” Dominguez said. "We’ve had a ton of support in the local community as well as the extended community. Last year, we were able to give out over 900 boxes of food and clothes to families in need."

Now that students are back in school, ‘Cuba Cares’ will not go anywhere anytime soon.

"We are up and running man,” Dominguez said, “so we are definitely here to stay. We want to do more community events, more outreach and just really let these students and families know that, ‘Hey, we are in this together, and we are gonna get there.’"