Promotoras Connecting Neighbors

Community promotora miriam

The Chicano Federation has been at the on the frontlines in the fight against COVID-19 within the Latino community which has been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19. Seeing the need to mobilize the community, Chicano Federation founded a coalition of 18 organizations including health centers, advocacy organizations, and service providers known as the San Diego Latino Health Coalition. The Coalition provides bilingual webinars, trainings and resources on COVID-19-prevention and an equitable recovery. The nonprofit partners also act as Resource Centers where Spanish speakers can receive answers on how to stay safe and healthy during the pandemic.

The San Diego Latino Health Coalition has distributed thousands of COVID-19 safety kits to families throughout San Diego. These kits include digital thermometers, face masks, disinfectant wipes, hand sanitizers and other resources. Through the coalition, community leaders conduct extensive outreach to community organizations and residents on COVID-19 prevention strategies, treatment, and testing to save lives. This work would not be possible without the support of tireless leaders who are out in the community every day providing people with lifesaving information. These unsung heroes who give so much to our community are known as “Promotoras.”

Miriam is with City Heights CDC, one of the San Diego Latino Health Coalition members, and is one of the leaders of this initiative. She is a ‘Promotora,’ or a lay community healthcare worker who helps connect neighbors to the resources they need to thrive. Miriam got her start inspired by the women she grew up with. “I got my first glimpse of Promotora work watching my auntie. After a long hard day of work, she would take the time to connect with neighbors and friends and check in on them. She often found ways to connect people with the resources or contacts they needed at that time.”

It is a simple thing, really. Checking in. Asking questions. Building trust. Yet, in our fast-paced, hyper-individualistic society, these simple, everyday building blocks of community are easily forgotten. Chicano Federation CEO and Chair of the San Diego Latino Health Coalition, Nancy Maldonado, saw the immediate need to have Promotoras lead outreach efforts, “Promotoras are the vital link between lifesaving information and our Spanish speaking communities. Their deep roots in the community and their visible leadership has been critical in helping us reach community members who would otherwise not be receptive to receiving this information and resources through other channels.”

Miriam refuses to forget the basics, and it is part of the reason she is a great Promotora. “Promotoras are health care focused by definition, but we approach it in a much more holistic way, because healthcare itself is holistic – it is connected to everything. We know education is connected to health, housing is about health, and so on. We support people in the community in as many of these was as we can. COVID-19 affects people on every level, so we have to offer support on every level, too.” Thanks to Promotoras like Miriam, many lives have been saved. Miriam is a true community hero and Chicano Federation is proud to partner with Promotoras like her.

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Esteban Villanueva