October 27, 2020 News & Features » Cover Story

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Cindy Capriles, 30 

Director of Counseling at Safe Harbor

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Scott Elmquist

Northern Virginia native Cindy Capriles says from a very young age, “I was a helper.” 

She started Virginia Commonwealth University as a nursing student, but it wasn’t the fit she was looking for. Instead, she drew inspiration from her own immigrant experience and became a licensed clinical social worker, focusing on helping Spanish speakers find a voice and access to services.

When Capriles started at Safe Harbor Shelter in 2015, she was the only bilingual counselor. Today, “We have three counselors including myself who are bilingual,” says Capriles. “It’s a huge mission of mine to expand services for the Latinx community, personally and professionally.” 

Capriles was promoted to director at only 29 years old, but says she still takes on cases in between her managerial duties like writing grants and reports. Safe Harbor offers support for those who have experienced or are experiencing domestic violence, sexual violence or human trafficking. 

Mental health services for Spanish speakers in the area are hard to come by.

“We’ve had people drive over from Lynchburg and Farmville,” Capriles says. “Our services are free – we take a lot of pride in what we do.”

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