Over the past year or so, you may have noticed we’ve been a bit excited about ongoing developments with a little project we call One Healthy Longmont. As part of this great initiative, we are actively bringing together resources to support community members in successfully advocating for health where it matters most. Notably among these community supports is a remarkable group of promotoras. Over a year ago, we put out calls for promotoras. In recent months, we’ve glowed with congratulations for their hard work. And now we’re realizing, we never really explained…exactly what is a promotora?
We could try to explain our interpretation of this significant, dynamic term, but we’d really rather show by stellar example. So we’ve asked a few of our generous, charismatic and passionate promotoras participating in special trainings offered in conjunction with Cultivando to share in their own words a little of what it takes. This month, meet bold, magnetic mother of three from Mexico, Erika Leon.
Erika was drawn to the role of promotora from an early age. She was inspired by her dearest, most influential role model, her mom. “My mother worked for Social Services in Mexico,” Erika says. “Much of her work took place in hospitals. I watched and admired her work. More importantly, I learned her passion. She is selfless and tireless when it comes to helping people. And I especially admire her great vision for improving family welfare and her courage advocating for change. She gave me support in understanding how to navigate the system.”
When Erika’s husband, an engineer, was transferred from Mexico to Longmont seven years ago, her life was turned upside-down. In Mexico, she worked as an attorney, and felt happy with her work-life balance. It was exceedingly comforting that her first child was cared for by family during her work hours. Coming to America, she was faced with the daunting task of learning English, setting new roots, and getting to know whole new government and education systems. Most of all, she was faced with a mammoth task of providing her daughter with a positive outlook and stability even as internally she felt shaken. Seeing her daughter overwhelmed, Erika’s mom joined the family for their first six months in their new world, helping her find new ground. She would later visit another 6 months following the birth of the Salas family’s third child. “She said to me, OK, you need to look and find your community,” Erika says. “She helped me get settled, and she helped fuel my motivation to keep moving forward, get to know my community and continue on a personal path of continual improvement.”
LWL: How do you define, “promotora“?
Erika: A promotora intimately knows the needs of a community, promotes and provides information to the community. She serves as a bridge between community and organizations and facilitates collaboration and helping of one another.
LWL: What does it take to be a promotora, and what draws you to that role here?
Erika: To be a promotora, you need to start knowing yourself, then family, and finally community. Your need passion and the desire to help others.
Leaving behind my law career in Mexico, I gave up so much. I cried, so much. Yet I am very grateful for opportunities I have here. I think of others who immigrate here who are not as fortunate when it comes to opportunities and resources as I am.
LWL: What drew you to take the training offered by LiveWell Longmont and Cultivando, “Cultivando mi vos”?
Erika: I have a passion for my community, to learn new things, to help meet needs. I wanted to know more about LiveWell and the training was a great opportunity. My mom really inspired me early to treat training opportunities as gifts–they always bring about improvement, self, for my children, or opening up awareness of resources.
I feel proud to volunteer in organization, to be part of this group of women interested in promoting physical and mental health, welfare of families.
LWL: What would you describe as your greatest passion when it comes to community work?
Erika: Family welfare. Anything that helps families–health, nutrition, resources. Family is what life is about.
LWL: What are your goals and hopes for once the second training, “Cultivando nuestra accion” is completed?
Erika: I would love to work for an organization wherein I can apply my skills and help community more efficiently. I will always work to impact and improve physical and mental health within families.
Working Together for One Healthy Longmont (One Healthy Longmont) works collaboratively to increase the health of our community by supporting those living in Longmont most impacted by health disparities and chronic disease. This compelling initiative is made possible thanks to generous funding in the amount of $600,000 awarded through The Cancer Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Disease (CCPD) Grants Program.