The Impact of a Community Health Worker
Public health promotes and protects the health of people and the communities where they live, learn, work and play. While a doctor treats people who are sick, those working in public health try to prevent people from getting sick or injured in the first place by promoting wellness and encouraging healthy behaviors.
Community Health Workers (CHW) are a pillar that supports the community beyond just providing public health resources. Perhaps an unwritten job qualification of CHW’s is the ability to connect with people from all walks of life through empathy, humor, and trust.
Recently, David Castro, a well-loved CHW with the health district shared a touching story that highlights the impact his relationships have on the community but also, on himself.
David Castro helped the Native Project with all of their vaccine clinics, so Toni Lodge thanked him with a beautiful native blanket.
“I open my gift ...Toni wrapped it around me and said, “You’re family now.” I was almost in tears; I’ve never felt so honored before. ”
In his own words, David describes his experience of being a Community Health Worker:
As community health workers, we engage the community and connect them to public health resources. I personally see it as opportunity to befriend and build meaningful relationships with people in my community. Working with the Native Project team has showed me that maybe even the way I see my role, as a Community Health Worker, is too narrow.
Out of the blue, I received a call from Toni Lodge, the Executive Director of Native Project, asking if I could come to the Native Project. She didn’t say why but without hesitation I said, “Yeah, I’ll walk on over. Be there in 10 minutes.” I turned off my stove and walk over to the clinic. I was greeted by Dylan Dressler who I have been working alongside of at the COVID-19 vaccine clinics since February. Dylan has been the main organizer for all the vaccine clinics for Spokane’s BIPOC population. With a grin on her face, Dylan tells me that Toni has something for me. I had no idea what to expect because Toni likes to tease me in a familial way. I saw Toni and she said, “We wanted to give you something for helping out at all the vaccine clinics.” I open my gift and it’s a beautiful Native blanket. Toni wrapped it around me and said, “You’re family now.” I was almost in tears; I’ve never felt so honored before.
I now feel that being a Community Health Worker means to be woven into the very fabric of our community and to seek to mend the areas where there has been historic disconnect with our neighbors. I am grateful, each and every day, for the opportunity to be a part of the COVI-19 response work at Spokane Regional Health District.
It’s stories like David’s that are the driving force that motivates all public health workers to provide the level of care to the local community that leaves a lasting impression.
If you wish to get involved, visit Volunteers / Internships | SRHD.