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Together We Can
CAPITAL REGION CARES

Together We Can

Community-based organizations increase health care access
Regional community-based organizations have been working tirelessly to provide vaccine information and access and other essential services for those in need during the pandemic .
For almost 50 years , La Familia Counseling Center has provided multicultural counseling , outreach and support to low-income , at-risk youth and families in the Sacramento area . The Center expanded its services during the pandemic to provide vaccination access and information through pop-up clinics in rural areas , as well as resources like financial assistance , transportation , food and wellness checks .
“ We have a saying that goes ‘ Juntos Podemos ’ (‘ Together We Can ’),” La Familia ’ s Executive Director Rachel Rios says . “ And during the pandemic , this was absolutely true .”
Rios says the most significant obstacle was misinformation within the communities they serve . “ We saw a lack of trust , and going to trusted partners reassured them ,” she says . Another obstacle was the language barrier , so a robust number of interpreters were available , including Hmong and Arabic speakers .
La Familia also recognized a lack of digital access for many community members during the clinic check-in process , which they addressed by creating smaller events to allow for extra assistance . “ The pandemic only underscored the inequities that already existed and we want to change that narrative by providing people with the tools needed to be healthy , live healthily and thrive ,” Rios says .
WellSpace Health , a full-service health care provider with multiple offices throughout the region , also provided vaccine services early on . Since the beginning of the pandemic , they ’ ve been providing information about access , eligibility and safety through text messages , social media and direct calls . They even teamed up with the City of Sacramento to administer Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg ’ s COVID-19 vaccine in 2021 .
Ben Avey , WellSpace Health chief public affairs officer , says they also had to overcome challenges to reach patients . “ The United States has a long and complicated history of racism and other forms of discrimination in health care ,” he says . “ For some immigrants , history from their country of origin may sow seeds of distrust . There is also a real-world logistics challenge . If a person is working two to three jobs and has a family , it can be difficult finding the time to get vaccinated .”
To combat this , Avey says a range of BIPOC health care providers worked with the community to help break down barriers . “ Often , it takes a provider or care team who can relate to the patient on a personal level or through shared experiences ,” he says . “ That may take the form of a care team that ‘ looks like me ’ from a patient perspective .”
In Del Paso Heights , two nonprofits are also working hard to reach their community . Neighborhood Wellness Foundation provides resources on a range of topics , from childhood trauma to skill development , and the foundation has assisted in facilitating over 26,000 COVID vaccines to date . Mutual Assistance Network provides pregnancy and parenting resources , economic development and youth programs . Since 2020 , MAN has served more than 20,000 Sacramento residents at area clinics and administered 5,700 vaccines through their COVID outreach team .
“ With little information and a lot of misinformation , MAN partnered early on to get accurate information about the vaccines and the importance of knowing your status ,” says MAN Executive Director Danielle Lawrence . “ Additionally , keeping our teams and residents safe while serving the community was of the utmost importance .”
― Jessica Hice
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are hobbled by gaps in employment , jail records or the lack of social or so-called “ soft skills ” like communication . Even so , getting both sides to understand each other produces results . “ I recently interviewed a client at 11 o ’ clock in the morning and they were hired the very next day ,” he says .
The primary goal of nonprofit workforce programs is to make clients self-sufficient by overcoming the barriers to getting a job , which can begin with teaching basic work habits like the importance of showing up on time , says Deborah Johnson of Ready To Work in Stockton . Johnson ’ s 45 clients work for Caltrans or city and county agencies in San Joaquin and Stanislaus counties during a 15-month program . “ Their struggles can be difficult as they try to satisfy a probation requirement or reunite with their families or overcome homelessness ,” she says .
Many job seekers are in critical need of housing , so Ready To Work helps with that . “ Having a place to live is the foundation for finding a job ,” Johnson says . “ Without it , there is no place to get mail or a payroll check .”
Teaching clients how to work and keep a job is as important as finding the job itself . “ Our ethos is to meet the holistic needs of the whole person ,” Carmichael says , which includes interceding with employers when things go wrong and working with the client for a year or longer after they start a job . That focus on retention provides stability for the newly employed — and benefits the employer , too .
“ It costs a company about $ 3,000 to bring on a new employee and $ 30,000 if they leave after a year ,” Mann says . “ It also costs the county about $ 29,000 a year to meet the needs of a homeless person . We put people to work and generated $ 19 million in taxable income .”
Bill Sessa has been a freelance writer for Comstock ’ s since 2013 . He has received many awards for his writing about the automotive industry and motorsports for national publications including Speed Sport , Autoweek and Performance Racing Industry magazines and for the Napa Valley Register .
86 comstocksmag . com | May 2022