Recognized for its innovative services, Familias Unidas was honored with a “ChangeMaker” award for its Promotoras de Salud (Community Health Workers) program that uses unique strategies to improve health in the Latino community.
The award was presented this summer at the Edge of Amazing Community Health Summit in Everett. The summit was hosted by the Snohomish County Health Leadership Coalition and the Providence Institute for a Healthier Community. Ceremonies included Washington Governor Jay Inslee.
Familias Unidas is one of eight family centers operated by Lutheran Community Services Northwest. Located in Everett, this center focuses on strengthening the Latino community. Promotoras de Salud provides health education and resources to low-income Hispanic families in Snohomish County .
“Even in 2015, there are still people who need a lot of help and information about health and the many programs to which they may be eligible,” explains Yolanda Estrella, a Promotoras de Salud volunteer. “There are people who have perhaps heard of programs, but because of their immigration status, are afraid to ask for help.”
In Promotoras de Salud, Latino women are trained volunteers who promote health education and improve health access. Language and cultural barriers make it difficult to understand what programs and services are available. If families don’t have insurance or receive misinformation, members often avoid seeing a doctor. That can lead to medical disasters.
Promotoras de Sauld started in 2014 with a grant from the Susan G. Komen Foundation and Walgreens. It initially focused on breast health, along with colon and cervical cancer prevention. Future programs will be geared towards diabetes, weight management and ongoing health-care challenges.
The first group of eight volunteers has grown to 20, with about half completing the Community Health Worker program from the State of Washington. Volunteers provide health information to Latinos through health chats, community events, one-on-one discussions and over the phone. They have reached about 1,500 people in the last six months. There is also an emotional component, as Promotoras promote sympathy, compassion and understanding.
Volunteer commitment has made the program successful. The original eight volunteers even recruited the next group of volunteers.
“It was meaningful because it meant the community opened their hearts to our mission,” said Sandra Solano-Huber, Program Coordinator for Familias Unidas. “This meant each and every one of us can make an impact in the interactions we have with our participants.”
Familias Unidas recently received additional funding from the Verdant Health Commission in south Snohomish County for the next two years. The “ChangeMaker” award was presented by Sister Georgette Bayless of the Sisters of Providence to Solano-Huber.