By Roxanne Grijalva and Natalia Baltazar

Since the merger with Center for Families in January, Empower Yolo has expanded its services to clients and outreach to the community.

Along with the expansion of the Wallace and Vannucci confidential shelter, thanks to HomeAid Sacramento and The New Home Company, there are many wonderful programs to help individuals and families be safe, healthy and thrive.

One such program is the “Promotoras for Active Living” project. Promotoras are often past clients or lay community members who are trained to deliver culturally appropriate health education; support family and friends by honoring cultural traditions and building upon the strengths of traditional family values and structures; and connect community members to existing programs such as health and social services in Yolo County.

Promotoras receive training on relevant health issues for the Latino community and learn how to access health and social services in the local region. Then, through community outreach, the Promotoras are able to bridge the gap between hard-to-reach Latino residents and service providers.

Meanwhile, they gain tangible skills in health education, resource and referral, insurance enrollment and public speaking, thereby enhancing their employability. Community members benefit from increased knowledge about managing chronic illnesses, learn about healthy diet/exercise and how to prevent illness, and are also connected to health and social services.

Essentially, this project is designed to inspire members of the Latino community to live actively and improve their own health by getting regular exercise, cooking nutritious meals at home, managing chronic illnesses and proactively seeking community services.

In the Promotoras spotlight is Maria de Lourdes Sanchez (Lourdes), who has volunteered with the program for four years. As a Promotora, Lourdes has learned a lot about services that can help others. She believes the information she has learned has helped her grow as a person, and she goes home feeling great because it is very rewarding to help others, she said.

As a Promotora, Lourdes developed strong leadership and communication skills and is actively working in her children’s school and for the Davis school district.

Promotoras serve as translators, outreach workers, patient advocates, educators and mentors. The Promotoras are particularly effective in accessing the underserved members of the community, including seasonal farmworkers and undocumented immigrants.

In addition to their amazing community outreach, the Promotoras do many community projects and events. In the spring, the Promotoras knitting group hopped on over to the Courtyard Health Center to deliver knitted bunnies made by the women’s group.

Promotoras at the Yolo Center for Families have initiated community service projects in the city of Davis. In December, they went caroling at the Courtyard Health Center. In February, Davis Bridge students at Montgomery Elementary School made valentine’s cards and the women’s group knitted scarves and gave them to the residents of the Courtyard Health Center for Valentine’s Day. The knitting/sewing group wants to expand its community service projects.

The Yolo Center for Families, a program of Empower Yolo, has two locations in Davis and provides an array of services to support families and individuals in the community, such as case Management, VITA free tax preparation, developmental screenings for children ages 5 and under, food referrals, application assistance, play group experience, Baile Folklorico classes, Zumba classes, produce distributions, GED preparation classes and English language classes.

One of the Promotoras’ spring project is the folklorico skirt project, where they will teach a group to sew traditional skirts. The Promotoras will perform traditional Baile Folklorico (dances) with the skirts made by the sewing group.

Promotoras will be at the Big Day of Giving halftime celebration on Tuesday, May 3, from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at César Chávez Park, 10th and J streets in downtown Sacramento. They’ll show the traditional skirts they sew and demonstrate folklorico dance.

Donations made during the Big DOG campaign will go toward the Promotoras program as well as many of the other programs Empower Yolo offers, including maintenance of the Wallace and Vannucci shelter.

Donations may be made online at and search for “Empower Yolo,” or at

— Roxanne Grijalva was a Promotora supervisor at the Center for Families in Davis. Natalia Baltazar is Empower Yolo’s development and community relations officer. This column is published monthly.

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