By La Prensa Staff

TOLEDO, March 2, 2024: The Believe Center launched an expansion of its community center offerings March 1, announcing mental health outreach and navigator services to youth and families.

The new bilingual [Spanish/English] program is called Rana Sana (Healthy Frog), aimed at enhancing support for individuals and families. The focus will be on helping them navigate behavioral and mental health services and provide youth prevention programming. Believe Center leaders see it as a natural extension beyond its sports programs.

The program’s name is a reference to the healing rhyme “Sana Sana Colita de Rana,” which translated literally means “heal, heal, little frog’s tail.” It is an expression that’s commonly used in many Latino communities to console someone, most often a child, who has been hurt.

“We want to make sure we have services provided for the community, who are underserved and are not aware of these programs available for them,” said Dr. Vinny Riccardi, Believe Center executive director. “We’re here and we have relationships with the people who actually live here, so we want to make sure we work with the people who need it the most.”

Riccardi emphasized the program will take a holistic approach to the well-being of children and families in the community by addressing their diverse needs. He stated the bilingual staff trained in cultural competence will increase accessibility and inclusivity so all community members can benefit from the behavioral and mental health resources now being offered.

Rana Sana will be run by program director Elaina Hernández, who has long-term ties to the Believe Center. She will oversee the outreach and navigator staff of two bilingual employees.

Rana Sana will take walk-ins, referrals from community partners, and any source identifying a need for families to be linked to health care services in the community. The key, Riccardi said, will be to meet families where they are and connect them to appropriate services to meet needs.

“This is a new thing that was never anticipated, but the reality is we need to serve our families,” said Riccardi.

The Believe Center also operates a prevention program in neighborhood schools like Queen of Apostles, St. Patrick of Heatherdowns, and L. Hollingsworth School. The focus is on sixth grade students this academic year but will expand to other elementary-age grades in the coming years.

Rana Sana will operate alongside the Neighborhood Health Association [NHA], which has recently reintroduced medical services at the Believe Center. NHA operates the Aurora Senior Health Clinic, which opened in recent weeks with help from the University of Toledo Medical Center and the Toledo Clinic. The clinic serves community members ages 55 and over.

Rana Sana is funded by $250,000 from the Lucas County Mental Health and Recovery Services Board (MHRS), with an additional $80,000 in federal ARPA funds provided by the City of Toledo. The same amount and funding sources were granted to the Sofia Quintero Art and Cultural Center, which will begin supplementary mental health services in the next few months.

Both organizations are tasked with providing vital mental health services to families that have been missing since the sudden and unexpected closure of nonprofit provider Adelante, Inc. and a rising demand brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. Sofia Quintero is currently seeking to hire staff for its programming.

“Our board has long recognized the need for increased access the black and brown populations and this is one of the first steps we’ve been able to take successfully over the last couple of years to re-establish services in the South End,” said Scott Sylak, MHRS Board president/CEO. “300 families walk through these doors every day, so there’s no better place to be right now.”

For more information about the Rana Sana program and the Believe Center’s services, you can call 567.200.2027 or visit