This year’s UnidosUS Annual Conference will be hosted in San Diego, a community that celebrates Hispanic heritage and shows its contributions to American society through the exchange of cultures and commerce. California is our largest Affiliate region, and San Diego is home to eight Affiliates supporting the Latino community. These Affiliates serve more than 150,000 clients in San Diego alone, in the areas of civic engagement, education, health, and housing. In our “Road to San Diego” Series we highlight the inspiring work they are doing in their community and the power of collaboration and leadership that is inherit within the UnidosUS Affiliate Network.
In this new post of our Road to San Diego series we feature La Maestra Community Health Center, a federally qualified health center that provides culturally and linguistically competent primary care and specialty services. But what makes La Maestra stand out is their Circle of Care, which focuses on self-sufficiency as one of its highest priorities for a person’s well-being.
By John Marth, UnidosUS Content Manager
When you walk into a La Maestra Community Health Center, you immediately see their Circle of Care, a gorgeous multicolored flower symbolizing the holistic approach they take to improving the health of their clients.
“A lot of people come in for one service and get a bunch of others they didn’t know we have,” says Daniela Cervantes, Community Health Worker Administrative Lead. “Some people come in with questions about medical aid and end up putting a down payment on a house.”
La Maestra began as an amnesty center in 1986 and since then has become a federally qualified health center, offers citizenship classes, and more. Recently, the San Diego Affiliate has been involved in Financial Works, a new UnidosUS program that helps weave financial literacy into an organization’s daily services.
The program connects clients to a financial coach for free, offering people information and guidance that they normally can’t access due to cost. Many of La Maestra’s customers are Spanish-dominant, and the bilingual coaches are able to help them much more than a coach who only speaks English.
The integration works perfectly for La Maestra, which includes financial stability as part of their Circle of Care. “It’s important to your finances, but it’s also important to your health,” Daniela says. “When we meet some of our clients, their rent and their bills are more than what they get in their paycheck, so they don’t have anything left for food.” The program helps customers navigate that issue and come up with a solution.
La Maestra also offers our Comprando Rico y Sano program. The two programs connect in a way that really helps La Maestra’s customers transform their lives. “Being part of two programs has brought a lot of strength to community health workers,” says Cynthia Kaser, Chief Community Development Programs Officer. “Now we can say ‘Here’s your financial coach, and here’s how you can eat healthy on a budget.’”
Financial Works has become so popular that La Maestra promotes it within its own staff. And at a monthly health fair, anyone can see all they offer. They partner with other community organizations to give resources, there’s a mobile unit for health and dental screenings, substance abuse help, and services that can better any part of a person’s life.
The regular fairs have brought awareness to the community about the opportunities in La Maestra’s work, and their commitment to connecting people to programs that will help them in all facets of their lives. “It’s a celebration of taking care of the entire well-being of the individual,” Cynthia says.
To learn more about La Maestra Community Health Center, don’t miss the 2019 UnidosUS Annual Conference. Registrations are open until July 26. Check the full schedule of workshops and activities here, and register today.