Prosper Waco: Get to know your Community Health Worker
By Christina Helmick
Do you live in one of the following zip codes: 76704, 76705, 76706 or 76707? Did you know that you have a certified Community Health Worker who is dedicated to helping you navigate the healthcare system and focused on connecting you to local resources? Did we mention it is all for free?
The McLennan County Community Health Worker Initiative, referred to as CHW, is a program led by the Waco-McLennan County Public Health District to connect individuals in Waco’s most high-need areas to healthcare information and resources. This program was made possible through generous funding by Episcopal Health Foundation and is in partnership with Providence Healthcare Network, Baylor Scott & White-Hillcrest and Family Health Center. There are three CHWs per high-need zip code, which totals 12 CHWs for Waco!
Since CHWs are individuals who are from, work in and understand the community they represent, I thought I would take the opportunity to do a Q&A with two CHWs so people can get to know who they are and how to get in touch with them! The Q&A features Domonique Corsey, a CHW for the East Waco community, and Christy Perkins, a CHW for the North Waco community!
Q: Why do you think the CHW initiative is important for our community?
Domonique: The CHW initiative is good for the Waco community because as community members, we have the opportunity to be the voice for the voiceless. The Waco community needs to see that they have people who are there for them through every circumstance. We as Community Health Workers advocate, manage, facilitate, encourage, educate and build—just to name a few! Our tasks vary from distributing brochures with educational information in relevant neighborhoods to helping an elderly woman check her glucose levels. CHWs also work with individuals or groups to educate them on preventable diseases like diabetes or heart disease.
Christy: The CHW program is important to our community for many reasons. This program supplies Waco’s most high-need communities with CHWs who will advocate on behalf of clients’ overall needs with true intent to produce a positive change. One of the most important roles of a Community Health Worker is to build trusting relationships with their clients. One way we are able to do that is by meeting them in a comfortable setting. By meeting people where they are in life and without judgment, it gives clients someone who they can trust and discuss issues with. CHWs help to set and reach goals according to their individual needs. The CHWs help to access resources while educating clients on how to navigate resources self-sufficiently.
Q: Why did you apply to become a Community Health Worker?
Domonique: Once I heard of the CHW initiative, I knew it was for me because of my passion for the community. I am passionate about being a helping hand and seeing others succeed. To me it’s very important to be able to help others thrive. I love learning while I work and I truly enjoy what I do as a CHW—who doesn’t want that!
Christy: I applied to become a CHW because I have a passion for advocacy. I have a desire to raise awareness for advocacy and resources available to people. I didn’t know where to start and this opportunity gave me access to step into that role. I have a heart for people and want to assist them in pushing past adversity and living their best lives.
Q: Since you started working at a Community Health Worker, what have you seen as the biggest health-related needs in your community?
Domonique: In East Waco, the biggest needs range from employment, affordable housing, and various healthcare needs, especially mental health. When you drive around East Waco, you see so many people walking around ill and homeless. Another need I see is the connection with our youth. Our community needs low-cost or free programs that can enrich our young people’s lives. I also see many exterior structures that need repair, such as stop signs and sidewalks.
Christy: In North Waco, one of the greatest needs is providing resources to the homeless. There is overpopulation in the shelters in our community. Many of our homeless population have health issues and most often mental health issues. They are subject to harsh weather and struggle to provide the necessities to live day-to-day. The needs are many and the access to them is limited for a number of reasons. Other needs I see are childcare and rental assistance! Some barriers to resources in the North Waco community are simply the lack of knowledge of the available resources available and language.
If you are looking to get connected to your Community Health Worker, you can call the CHW coordinator, Paula Solano, at the Health District! Her phone number is 254-750-5631. She will pair you with your Community Health Worker.
The Waco-McLennan County Public Health District is looking for THREE more CHWs for the 76705, 76706 and 76707 community! Ideally, the CHWs would be bilingual and/or male. If you know of someone who would make a great CHW, call Paula Solano (254-750-5631).
Collaborative efforts like the CHW initiative are working to address the community’s goals around access to care, including increasing the percentage of individuals who have health insurance and decreasing the use of the emergency room as a source of primary care. To learn more about initiative efforts like the CHW, visit the Prosper Waco website.
Christina Helmick is the director of communication at Prosper Waco. She is a recent graduate of Baylor University with a BA in Journalism, Public Relations & New Media. Originally she is from Washington, D.C., but has stayed in Waco post-graduation. She is an active mentor at J.H. Hines Elementary School, enjoys spending time with her family and watching Baylor football. Sic ’em Bears!
The Act Locally Waco blog publishes posts with a connection to these aspirations for Waco. If you are interested in writing for the Act Locally Waco Blog, please email [email protected] for more information.