Last March, things were going well for Brenda Gonzalez as the head of interpreter services for Dean Health System. She was just getting ready to hire another batch of interpreters and her worked allowed her to get involved in community health issues in the Latino community.  Gonzalez was a regular fixture at Latino Health Council events and community events like Dia de los Ninos.
      But an opportunity came along that would allow Gonzalez to broaden her horizons and potentially have a greater impact on immigrant health issues. It was an opportunity that she couldn't pass up.
      Gonzalez is now the deputy director of New Routes to Community Health, a national initiative that is being funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Gonzalez is very excited about the possibilities of this new venture. "The main goal is to have immigrant and refugee communities reach a healthier life in the broader sense of health and just being better adapted into the new receiving community," Gonzalez said during an interview with The Capital City Hues.
      During the coming months, eight sites -- dispersed throughout the country -- will be chosen through a national grant application process. "Each of the sites will have three different components, which is a media organization, a managing partner and the immigrant organization," Gonzalez said. "We are expecting each of the projects will have the immigrant organization be the lead organization in the planning and implementation of the project. It is an interesting project because not only do you have the community that has been there for a certain number of years, the community that is there, but also the new immigrants who are coming into the area. So you have that connection between those two groups. And they also have a media partner,  which could be radio, television or newspapers in the language that the community understands. We're hoping a lot of these projects will choose to have a community media, an ethnic media partner. We want to make sure that the immigrants themselves have the opportunity to choose what they think is important for them to be healthy in their communities and be able to work around that idea."
      Gonzalez has a pretty good understanding on how these projects could operate because she was involved in a similar collaborative project through the Latino Health Council.  "There were three organizations involved: the Perinatal Foundation, the Latino Health Council and La Movida radio station," Gonzalez recalled. "It was an idea that came up from the Perinatal Foundation. They wanted to continue with an awareness campaign in relationship to post-partum depression. They wanted to focus on one community. And they found that the Latino community was a rapidly growing community in the area. They contacted the Latino Health Council. Some of the members of the council asked what they could do to create something. They were very open to better understand a campaign directed at Latino women. It was very interesting because although they had a strong idea of how a women's campaign worked for White women -- they had the idea that campaign might work for the Latino community-- they were very open to receive our feedback. The Latino Health Council and many other people in the community said it might not work. Maybe they would have to look at other models which might work well."
      "That's when we came up with the idea of using radio soap opera," Gonzalez continued.  "They are very popular in many of the Latin American communities throughout Latin America. Grandmas and parents listen to the radio. It's not only how they gather their information, but also how they get their entertainment. It has also been done with comic books."  The radio soap opera would allow the group to give information about post-partum depression to Latino women in a format they would readily connect to.
      The members of the council also wanted to make sure the content was culturally relevant to Latino women. "We know it's talked about within the Latino community among women," Gonzalez said.  "But we're not quite sure they understand what it is. Someone feels sad and there could be many other reasons attributed than just saying 'Oh my God, it is a disease. It is something you can actually seek help for.' In one of the spots, a woman talked about how much she missed her family. She remembered how siblings and other kids in her family were raised by the family, not just by one woman like in this country without the support of the family. We wanted to incorporate all of these factors that are part of the reality of the community. These two organizations along with the radio station La Movida came together and wanted to fund the best skits possible for this campaign. We researched a little bit about the resources that were out there in the community for people, so it wasn't just about saying 'This is what's going on and this is what happens, but we don't know what to do.' We had the right contacts with their numbers to call where you could talk to people and make sure you understand and they have a way of communicating with you through an interpreter."
      Once the grants are announced, Gonzalez will get very busy. She will be responsible for setting up conferences for the grantees and providing technical assistance to the grantees as the try to make their plans a reality. For instance, collaboration is easier said then done.  "Collaboration can be very difficult, even among friends," Gonzalez reflected. "I've seen that in many situations here in Madison in situations I have worked in. I'm very hopeful I will be able to bring that experience into any of the other communities that I might be working with."
      While Gonzalez will be working with a group of technical experts to provide the assistance to the projects, Gonzalez is also working on a website through which people will be able to network and share with each other.  "We are hoping to be a central location for immigrants, people working with immigrants, organizations that might be working with immigrants who might be able to find resources and a venue to express what is the reality of immigrants in their own community," Gonzalez said.  "With that website, we are hoping that people who want to know more about each other and different communities or learn about someone else's expertise that might be helpful for them to use in their communities."
      While Gonzalez misses the role she played in the Madison community, she does look forward to forging new routes to help immigrants adjust to the U.S.
      Gonzalez may be contacted at
gonzalez@newroutes.org for more information.
JUNE 27, 2007
STORIES AND COLUMNS

*
The Literary Divide: A word of thanks,
by Paul Barrows

*
And Still I Rise: The Story of Arthur Jones, Milwaukee's First Black top Cop (2),
by Jonathan Gramling

*
Frank Allis Principal Chris Hodge: It's all about the children (2),
by Jonathan Gramling

*
Asian Wisconzine:
The Dalai Lama in Madison
,
by Heidi M. Pascual
(
www.asianwisconzine.com)

*
Simple Things:
Free Association
,
by Lang Kenneth Haynes

*
Politicas de hoy: Apaga la tele!,
por Alfonso Zepeda Capistran

*
Voices: Chronic Nuisance Ordinance,
by Jean Daniels

*
George Paz Martin: A crusader for peace,
by Jim Gramling

*
Boys & Girls Club Graduation ceremony,
by Jonathan Gramling

*
MATC GED Graduation,
by Jonathan Gramling

*
China Dispatch: Summer camp no more,
by Andrew Gramling

*
Omega School graduation,
by Laura Salinger

*
A race to save lives,
by Jonathan Gramling

*
Juneteenth celebration,
by Jonathan Gramling

*
AAEA preschool graduation,
by Jonathan Gramling

*
YW Transit Program,
by Jonathan Gramling

*
Letters to the Editor
VOL. III No. 13                                             JUNE 27, 2007
Taking it to a higher level
Graduation ceremonies abound in the Madison area
Gonzalez joins New Routes to Community Health
Binding around health
By Jonathan  Gramling
Homepage
Archives