Empowerment Congress works with many people who support achievement of our goals. One group, in particular, has helped us make more significant contact with the communities EC endeavors to collaborate with —a wonderfully strong group of women. Promotoras are usually women who identify as Hispanic/Latinx who receive specialized health training to provide primary health education and resources to their communities. Promotoras live in these neighborhoods and communities or similar communities, and they can make a personal connection with other community members because of their shared experiences. This month EC wanted to highlight one of these amazing women and the incredible work she does.
Carolina Valois loves being a Promotora. Carolina became a Promotora by chance when she was looking for a part-time job. She knew someone who was already a Promotora with Empowerment Congress and told her they were hiring more people. So Carolina applied and got the call that she had been hired to be a Promotora. During this time, Empowerment Congress hired Carolina to do outreach for the 2020 Census. This was her first time working as a Promotora. Carolina is a property manager, but someday she hopes she can make her Promotora work her full-time job. Carolina says that “being a Promotora is a fulfilling job because I feel good that I helped someone else.” One aspect of her work she finds crucial is connecting one-on-one with the community and giving them valuable information. “Actually, people don’t really know about these programs, and we help the community be well informed.” Carolina loves being able to educate and give information to her communities to become empowered and make the necessary decisions that are right for them.
Not only is the work of a Promotora to empower their community members but also to empower themselves. “I think we are powerful because we are giving a message to the community and taking care of the community and the people.” The work Promotoras do is centered around making information and resources accessible to communities that they currently don’t have access. EC Promotoras go out into the field and canvass door-to-door and also do canvassing work via telephone. Depending on the campaign they work on, the Promotoras will give residents specific information and resources. For example, the Promotoras working on our Covid-19 outreach and education campaign will call residents and ask them if they are thinking about getting the vaccine. During this call, the Promotoras can answer basic questions residents might have about the vaccine, help them register to receive the vaccine, set up appointments, or give them information on vaccine locations near them. “I feel a little bit powerful just because I am giving them the information. Hopefully, they will take that information and do the right thing for themselves.” For Carolina, doing something that seems simple makes her feel powerful because having the ability to educate and support her community members’ wellbeing is fantastic.
One of the other great things about being a Promotora is the bond the women make. These women are strong, independent, and are hard-working. Many people might perpetuate stereotypes about having a group of women work together. There is never drama between the women, and they work together and keep each other safe. Carolina says, “we help each other as Promotoras.” Carolina explained that whenever they encounter a problem while they are canvassing door-to-door or on the phones, they come together as a team and work it out. No one is made to feel better or worse than anyone else, and Carolina believes that dynamic works best for them. “We really enjoy each other’s company and each other’s help.”
There are a few things that make being a Promotora challenging. “Right now, with the Covid issues, you’re risking yourself a little, but we try to take care of each other,” Carolina says. The Promotoras follow proper Covid-19 guidelines, and they make sure they stay a safe distance when talking to community members; they wear masks and sanitize their hands often. Most of the time thought the riskiest part of Carolina’s job is the dogs. The houses Carolina and her fellow Promotoras visit have dogs. Some dogs are chained or behind a fence, but many times there are wandering dogs in the neighborhoods. They make sure to keep each other safe when encountering dogs. Again, Carolina says, “I don’t see it as a risky job; it’s just little things that can be taken care of.”
All in all, Carolina loves her job as a Promotora. She loves the fact that she gets to connect with others and support and educate them. “I love what I do even though sometimes it’s kind of hard. Sometimes in your job, you feel like you just want to finish and go home, but with this, I don’t feel like that.” Carolina also loves the women she works with and will always treasure the bonds she made with them. Carolina would like to tell other women in her community interested in doing work like this to go for it! “Being a Promotora really satisfies you as a human being, and you get to support people that really need it.” Empowerment Congress is proud to have a Promotora like Carolina and is thankful to all the Promotoras.