By Sabino Lopez, Interim Executive Director
Literally defined, “promotoras” simply means “promoters.” They have also been called camp health aides, colonia health workers, lay health advisors, outreach workers, community health representatives, indigenous or village health workers, and non-traditional health workers.
Our volunteer health promoters are one of the most significant pillars of Center for Community Advocacy (CCA) in its efforts to provide education, orientation and health support to farmworkers and other low-income working families who want to establish committees that work to educate and improve health conditions in their neighborhoods in Salinas and Pajaro Valley.
After being trained by CCA trainers and health service providers, these promotoras comunitarias deliver preventative health information/interventions in the areas of chronic diseases, behavioral health and youth violence prevention to their peers. The majority of CCA-trained volunteer promotoras are also mothers. They dream of providing a better future for their children. They dream of helping to create healthy, safe and strong neighborhoods.
As trained promotoras, these farmworker women educate their neighbors on ways to improve their health and prevent disease and illness. and illness. For many farmworker families, promotoras may be their only source of health information. This may mean the difference between preventive care and diagnosis of a preventable chronic disease.
According to American Public Health Association’s Community Health Worker Section, a community health worker” is a frontline public health worker who is a trusted member of and/or has an unusually close understanding of the community served. This trusting relationship enables the worker to serve as a liaison/intermediary between health/social services and the community to facilitate access to services and improve the quality and cultural competence of service delivery.
“A community health worker also builds individual and community capacity by increasing health knowledge and self sufficiency through a range of activities such as outreach, community education, informal counseling, social support and advocacy,” it concluded.
Because of CCA’s promotoras comunitarias, each year:
• Hundreds of farmworker families and other low-income families learn and teach about simple and healthier ways to eat and cook.
• Hundreds of farmworker families and other low-income families learn and teach about ways to increase their physical fitness.
• Hundreds of farmworker families and other low-income families learn and teach about how to prevent, detect and make referrals to proper health providers.
In addition to helping farmworkers improve their health, promotoras, because of their leadership positions in their comn1unities, help build a stronger relationship between parents and their children to help families reduce stress and depression.
CCA was incorporated in 1989 and began providing services in 1990. CCA’s mission is to train farmworkers to form and lead community based committees to advocate for improved housing and health conditions.
CCA’ vision is a community where farmworkers are empowered to serve as leaders and where community decision makers seek the counsel of these farmworker leaders.
Every year, CCA sponsors a Mother’s Day Promotoras Campaign to help raise funds to honor and support the women who head CCA.’s neighborhood housing and health committees.
“CCA is able to help farmworkers help themselves’ because of the generous support of our local community, foundations and private donors,” said Sabino Lopez, Executive Director of CCA.” Let’s make this Mother’s Day a day to recognize mothers as exceptional and exemplary leaders, a day to give back to those who are always helping others. Our goal this year is to raise $50,000 for these courageous and determined women.”
To support or to get more information on CCA’s promotoras program, call CCA at (831) 753-2324 extension 15 or go to the website at cca-viva.org.