The Californian – Door to Hope offers 11 programs to help

By Laureen Diephof


The dancing ICT staff is from left, Peer Partner Carlos Vargas, Clinical Director Kathy Burrola,
Youth Mentor Coordinator Patterson Emesibe and Peer Partner Yajaira Villegas.

(Photo: Laureen Diephof/For The Salinas Californian)

SALINAS, CA – What better way is there to show the optimism and love of your job than jumping up and jiving to the music after an intensive meeting? That is what some members of the ICT (Integrated Co-Occurring Treatment) demonstrated and how it energizes them for the task they face as mentors.

ICT is one part of The Door-to-Hope’s offerings to those in need of a better way of living. The exuberance exemplifies the ICT staff’s dedication to serve Monterey County’s teenagers, who have both mental health and drug problems.

Kathy Burrola, Clinical Director of ICT and the three dancing staff members spoke of their relationships with teenagers who come for help either through referrals or on their own.

“We use a team approach for teens who have both mental health and drug problems, and after the intake with a therapist, they are partnered up with a peer mentor,” Burrola said.

Patterson Emesibe, Youth Mentor Coordinator, and graduate of CSUMB heads up the peer partner section of Door-to-Hope.

Emesbi’s position is two-fold. He represents ICT peer mentorship at tables set up with information at public events. He is there to give information and answer questions. He also speaks to organizations about ICT. Emesbi also directs, coordinates and trains the peer mentor program.

“The peer mentor model is significant, because a teenager may confide in a peer mentor before they would a therapist,” he said.

In addition to the peer mentor program, he is starting a leadership organization. A facilitator has been added to write a curriculum that when utilized, would put additional peers into the recovering community.

Peer partner for teen girls, Yajaira Villegas explains that the youth mentors work one-on-one with the clients and engage them throughout the week in a variety of activities.

“I take my clients to movies and sometimes to the beach, and other places. We meet after school, often in the evening and on weekends. This job keeps me humble and it is good for my well being,” Villegas said of her work with the clients she oversees.

Carlos Vargas, a mentor for teen boys said ninety percent of what the mentors do is parenting.

Vargas utilizes his sports background with the clients he oversees. He takes them to sports games, fishing, to the Pinnacles, and bocce ball court in Monterey, for example.

“This is so dumb, one of my clients said about bocce ball, but after playing for awhile, he admitted it was fun,” he explained. Vargas said mentors are consistent in what they do, and that builds trust in the clients. “Consistency is something important to the lives of these teenagers.”

Vargas often asks his clients what will they be doing ten years from now and, according to him, most answer that they do not know. He has encouraged some teens to get into college, and has taken steps to introduce them to Hartnell College and the possibility of enrolling after high school.

Demonstrating his affect on teens, Vargas pointed out, “One of my clients thanked me when he said, ‘you’re showing me that there’s more out there’ as he pointed to the hills.”

Another troubled youth said, “I’m doing something I’ve only seen in the movies.”

Comments like this one keeps him motivated, Vargas said.

In addition to the ICT for teens, parents are encouraged to participate, as well, said Burrola.

ICT’s treatment staff has credentials and experience in both the mental health and substance abuse fields, and the treatment staff visits the homes regularly, involving parents where the teen lives.

It is difficult to discern dual mental issues, such as a mental illness or drug or alcohol addiction, because they often overlap, Burrola said

“The professional mental health staff has the capability to reach proper diagnoses,” she said.

Door-to-Hope, under the direction of executive director Chris Shannon, is a resource for the entire family. It offers programs beginning with treatment for babies exposed prenatally to drugs and alcohol, called MCSTART. This program gives early intervention to babies exposed while still in the womb.

Other programs are the Women’s Residential, a safe haven for those overcoming addiction who are placed in a lovely home with an understanding staff and Nueva Esperanza, a refuge for mothers new to sobriety while caring for their children.

Outpatient Services empowers individuals to recover from the cycle of addiction, and do so while staying in their home.

Santa Lucia is a home for teen girls, aged 13 to 17, with behavioral health issues and drug problems who need a fresh start. Upon their release from the home, they become a member of ICT.

Door-to-Hope’s Mentor Moms and Dads helps reverse family separation and reunites children with their parents. Foster and Adoptive Parent Mentors aid parents as they welcome a new member to their family.

Other programs are Parents as Teachers, a guide to parents in raising an at-risk child, and Pathways to Safety, utilized to help a family after a referral is brought to the attention of the child protective service hotline.

Door-to-Hope also partners with the group, First Five of Monterey County. It is an organization that enhances the education of preschool aged children, and is located in Salinas, as well.

Door-to-Hope opened its doors in 1971 with a residential treatment center for women and over the years it has expanded to include the eleven programs mentioned.

“We’re here for folks who need help literally from uterus to the grave, and for those who want help,” Burrola said.

Burrola mentioned that the heroin epidemic is rampant, especially in the Carmel area, and many from there come into the program for help.

In May of this year, Door-to-Hope received accreditation from the CARF (Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities). CARF is an international independent, nonprofit accreditor of health and human services providers.

Laureen Diephof is a freelance writer living in Aromas.


Door-of-Hope is located at 130 W. Gabilan Street, Salinas. For information regarding how to receive the help needed or to refer someone to Door-of-Hope, link on to the website: or call 831-758-0181.

Don’t miss this year's Virtual Recovery Run and *Free* Community Celebration
June 8th, 2024, 11–3PM at Rabobank Stadium!
Reserve your FREE tickets and secure your spot today!
+ +