When all of her kids moved out, Ramona felt lonely and sad. Seeing this, her youngest daughter, who has always been active in the community, signed her up for classes to become a Promotora de Salud (Community Health Worker). Little did she know that this class would change her whole life.
In the beginning, Ramona was nervous, but she said she fell in love with the work once she started attending classes saying, “they teach you how to have empathy and to put yourself in other people’s shoes.” After finishing her courses in 2019, Ramona got her first promotora job teaching older people living with diabetes how to care for their health and increase their movement by dancing. “I liked how people would be encouraged to come to class,” Ramona said about the people she taught. Later she applied for and earned a promotora job at La Semilla Food Center. There, she taught people how to create and tend a home garden, utilize and cook the freshly grown produce from their garden. When she completed that project, Ramona had the opportunity to join and work with the Empowerment Congress team. Since she first started with Empowerment Congress, she has participated in three outreach and education campaigns for the 2020 Census, Get Out The Vote, and the Reduce the Risk, Covid-19 campaign.
The work at the Empowerment Congress was different from the work she was previously doing. EC’s outreach campaigns utilize door-to-door canvassing (when it’s safe to do so) and phone banking, contacting community members directly at their homes. Ramona said she “felt like more of a Promotora” doing this type of outreach with the Empowerment Congress. On days when she did not canvass, Ramona was calling residents on the phone, which initially was both complicated and overwhelming. For the first time doing this work, Ramona was out in the community knocking on doors talking to people and taking information to them. On occasion, Ramona would come in contact with rude people, but for every rude person, she would encounter a handful of nicer ones. She’s had people tell her, “please keep calling people; there are people who don’t know a lot about these things!” This is one of the reasons why Ramona enjoys being a Promotora because this work impacts people who need it the most. It’s not about looking for something that benefits her but giving something beneficial to the community. “I love working with and supporting my community,” Ramona said. Since she was a little girl, Ramona had always wanted to be a teacher, and now she feels like her dream has come true.
Before she became a Promotora, she worked at the Women’s Intercultural Center in the Construction center, where she taught women how to do tile floor work. “In a way, I was doing Promotora work, and I didn’t even know it … when I first started, my husband would ask me what time I’d be coming home and commenting on how much my phone would ring (because of the promotora work),” Ramona said. She told her husband that she had dedicated her life to their children and him; it was time for her to do something for herself. Ramona worked with her family to find a balance with her new schedule. She feels very fortunate to have a family unit that supports her journey. “My life has changed a lot, but being a Promotora makes me feel like a stronger woman, and I belong to my community now.” Ramona feels more developed, confident, and self-assured throughout this journey in all aspects of her life, physically, mentally, and financially.
Ramona is an amazing Promotora and genuinely loves being of service to her community. She’s had some obstacles to overcome but has grown stronger because of them. Ramona had to face this new shift in her life, and it might have been scary and sad at first, but she rose above it and found a passion that makes her happy. She continues to grow and develop as a Promotora and as a woman in her personal life. Ramona encourages other women to go out and seek opportunities to become a Promotora de Salud. She wants other women to know that being a promotora is a beautiful thing, and it can grant you a feeling of freedom.“It’s a great feeling to be able to support the community, your family, and yourself.”