In July and August, all regions continued to aid agricultural workers with navigating, avoiding, and dealing with COVID. Fifty encounters during these two months included conversations with workers who either had tested positive for COVID, had COVID symptoms, or were exposed to the virus. Although 170 workers were reported to be directly affected by the virus or exposed to it, promotores encountered many more needing vaccinations or referrals regarding COVID.
Thus, COVID reduction and prevention and the continued wellbeing of the community, remained at the center of the work. Promoting health was done often through distribution of resources, including 7,468 face masks, 3,418 at-home COVID tests, and 3,417 bottles of hand sanitizer in various sizes. Vaccines and boosters continued to be scheduled with the aid of Promotora Network team members, with 5,450 vaccine appointments assisted during these two months. These assisted appointments were often made through previous connections and promotores often spent time educating on COVID safety protocols, the safety of vaccination, and the location of testing sites, with 8,425 conversations on these topics being held.
COVID prevention was approached holistically by supporting a range of requests from people and families. Health and nutrition, for example, are key indicators of whether a person is more vulnerable to the virus. To ensure these workers and their families have the resources they need to promote health in their lives, we distributed 5,050 boxes of groceries and household items and 1,761 self-care hygiene kits. Items like sun hats, long sleeve shirts, bandanas, sunscreen, and work gloves help improve protection against natural elements which could otherwise drain the immune system. Clothing items in particular cut down upon vectors of COVID-19, as there is a far less likelihood of sharing items between people when each worker has their own.
Continuing to help workers with banking, legal referrals, the DMV, visas and immigration, and medical assistance may seem disparate from COVID prevention work. However, when promotores are present to help with these life events and basic needs, we can contribute to the safety of the process. Additionally, as workers and their families feel more stable and are presented with options and autonomy, they can make choices for themselves, rather than feeling forced to choose riskier options. Thus, promotores often spoke on a range of other topics, though few - if any - more often than COVID-19.
During mid-summer agricultural work is non-stop! To demonstrate what this work looks like, this report takes you through four examples of outreach across the state. These sections, called “A day in the life,” cannot represent the vast and variable work that happens daily, but it may give you a glimpse into what our frontline community outreach looks like.
A day in the life: San Luis Valley
On July 6, 2022, Promotores del Valle de San Luis, Ms. Amanda, Ms. Laura, Mr. Omar and Ms. Lucia, helped 60 agricultural workers and 40 community members across 6 different locations (that’s a lot of driving!). They worked a long day distributing important and requested resources including 10 hygiene kits, 187 COVID at-home tests, work gloves, sunscreen, backpacks, long sleeve shirts, water bottles, handkerchiefs, and snacks. The services this team provided were broad and educational - including information on COVID vaccinations, COVID safety, local hospitals and clinics, health insurance, workplace benefits, agricultural worker rights, immigration services, food banks and SNAP, adult education classes, and various other local assistance programs.
The stories of these outreach events are rich and powerful:
The sheep farm was located on Hwy 368. We saw two gentlemen with the sheep. We stopped and spoke with the owner's son-in-law, Brandon Buhr. He spoke about what they do, he also mentioned that they have another sheep farm up north - about a 20-30 minute drive. There are two other sheep herders who work there on that farm. The sheep herders are from Peru. They only speak Spanish. He allowed us to speak to them, and hand them the items. He also did not mind that we come back in the future. We spoke about the winter, and that we could also come back and give winter apparel. We took his number for future endeavors. He allowed us to hold a few baby lambs with the workers... It was a great partnership. [18299, 6 July 2022]
We stopped at the Migrant & Seasonal HeadStart in Waverly - located in Alamosa, CO (Migrant & Seasonal HeadStart is only for agricultural families). It currently serves 50 families, with a ton of new enrollment happening this Friday the 8th. We gave them 50 boxes of COVID tests to give to families- one per family until we get more. They have 30 staff members, so we also gave a COVID test to each employee. Christina, the site director, asked if we would be willing to put on a booth at the Parent/Enrollment Night. We will be given time at the event to discuss who we are and hand out any resources we currently have. They have requested disposable masks, more COVID tests, hand soap, hand sanitizer, and any other items to continue to stop the spread of COVID. [18297, 6 July 2022]
We went to Sky High Mobile Home Park in Alamosa, CO and went door-to-door for 27 houses doing educational outreach along with handing out COVID tests. Some agricultural workers were able to receive a string backpack with a water bottle, COVID test, handkerchief, hygiene kit and a pack of crackers. At one house, a gentleman mentioned that his wife has been on-and-off again at the potato warehouse in Center and in Monte Vista. They are still looking for jobs! At another house, an elderly man barely opened the door and shushed us by saying, "I already got all my shots" and refused the COVID tests. Down the road, a previous student of ours told us, "I'm not working or going to school. I'm thinking of going to college here soon! My mom works at White Mtn Farms down the road." [18296, 6 July 2022]
This 8 hour work day was filled to the brim with important conversations to both gauge the community’s health and wellness, and to provide education directly where it is needed. While we know that the far drives in The Valley and cultural navigation between Americans, Mexicans, Guatemalans and Peruvians all in one day is quite exhausting, it is also rewarding as they are told everywhere “Thank you very much!”, “This is much appreciated!” “We can't wait to see you next week!" and "Thank you for stopping by!"
A day in the life: Western Slope
On July 25, 2022, Promotoras from the Western Slope, Ms. Miriam and Francisca, spoke with agricultural workers at a housing site about COVID safety. The team in the West has been paying close attention to COVID cases in their communities and took action at a pivotal moment. Ms. Miriam and Francisca explained:
We had seen a few cases of COVID recently so we decided it was a good time to go visit workers and remind them about COVID. We did hand out a few COVID tests and hand sanitizer. I just tried to remind people COVID is still around and it never affects you the same every time you get it. We noticed a few people have had COVID but since it was mild symptoms or they only lasted heavily for one day they would head back to work. [19275, 25 July 2022]
The Promotoas were able to provide each worker with COVID tests so they could monitor their positivity and return to work when it was safe for them to do so. Ms Francisca and Miriam comment that:
Many people think COVID just died off. Also they don't know where to get COVID vaccines now. We have seen cases recently but they have mild symptoms so they don't make it a big deal anymore. [19279, 25 July 2022]
Encounters with small groups of ag workers on-site are not the only way promotores in the West have been promoting COVID safety. The next day, July 26, Cecilia Castro, another promotora in the region, helped with a COVID vaccine event for agricultural workers [19298, 26 July 2022] where they handed out gift cards as an incentive for vaccination on top of calming worries or connecting attendees to other resources. As the region has been organizing mobile vaccination events every month, they go smoothly and allow promotores more time to spend for other outreach.
A day in the life: North Region 3
A week later, on July 31, 2022, promotores in North subregion 3, Ms. Lucia and Dolores assisted in a mobile clinic.
[english translation] The event was the Covid 19 Mobile Vaccination Clinic, the highlight was that people were getting the vaccine and receiving information from different organizations such as ONE MORGAN COUNTY. They were giving out information about the licenses, about SB251 Northeast Colorado Health Department, giving away different anti-stress items, there was also a girl doing henna tattoos, and they had some food pantry items. And all the people who attended were given tacos and water. We from PROJECT PROTECT were helping to translate for the people who needed and were giving away face masks, some chips, disinfectants, and brochures from Legal Services of Colorado. It was an event where people had different questions such as affordable housing and need for help with interpretation. [19139, 31 July 2022]
Ms. Lucia and Dolores demonstrate through this story how a mobile vaccine clinic does more than just provide vaccines - it is a cultural event! Bringing henna tattoos and tacos together with translation-assisted resources ensured they had an excellent turn out.
A day in the life: Southeast
In the middle of August, Ms. Esperanza, Koralia and Ana, promotoras in the Southeast region, helped at an event wherein 100 agricultural workers were greeted with festivities and resources.
[english translation] Koralia de Lara, Ana Chacon and I, Esperanza Saucedo, took part in the BACKPACK give way event that was organized by Servicios de la Raza on August 14, 2022, where there were many resource tables for the community, including distribution of pantry items, COVID vaccines and more. This event was gorgeous. A great opportunity for us to live with the community. Many of our families benefited through this event – they purchased backpacks, school supplies and food boxes. There was a vaccine truck where they had the opportunity to vaccinate their children if they liked. We noticed that there is still a little fear of vaccinating their children. We heard that there are still questions about how these vaccines will affect your children in the future and their side effects and what the vaccines are made of. Koralia, Ana and Esperanza had the opportunity to distribute covid tests and masks and information about our Project Protect Promotora Program. [19421, 14 August 2022]
Again, such a beautiful event wherein COVID vaccinations are offered and surrounded by love, culture and activity. Ms. Esperanza explains that the vaccines were available, but more importantly they were able to have open discussion with parents about vaccinating their kids. These promotores have become highly skilled at creating room to have deeper conversations and dispel fears where possible.
This report was prepared by Kassandra Neiss and Mark Ludke. Contributions from Amanda Alanis, Laura Malouff, Omar Gonzáles, Lucia Gaspar, Miriam Aleman, Francisca Aleman, Cecilia Castro, Lucia Trejo, Dolores del Campo, Esperanza Saucedo, Koralia de Lara, and Ana Chacon.
September 22, 2022
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