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Community leader shows dedication to addressing health disparities in underrepresented communities

Posted at 7:58 PM, Sep 24, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-25 12:53:47-04

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — At Vision Y Compromiso it's all about community connection and promotoras like Nataly Santamaria make it their mission to provide resources from Arvin to Taft.

“There’s no college course you can take that makes you a promotora you come with that wanting to help your community,” said Santamaria.

Santamaria said that wanting to be a promotora started when she was a little girl. She was always looking to help her neighbor but growing up she understood that outside the community she lived in. Not everyone knows what a promotora is.

“The promotora lives in the community they arise naturally from the community. They are the liaison. They are that bridge to resources but what makes them unique is the service from the heart because a lot of them do it voluntarily,” said Santamaria.

Promotoras are typically a Hispanic/Latino community member who receives specialized training to provide basic health education in the community without being a professional health care worker.

Their work can involve anything the community they serve needs. From health education, mental health resources, to even providing shoes for children whose parents just need a little extra help.

Santamaria said community promotoras like herself know firsthand the challenges that Latinx people face. That's why being able to bring solutions to the community makes her proud of her job.

“It is not until you are at the supermarket and the lady comes to you and says you helped me get medical you helped me come to a class and it completely changed my life,” said Santamaria.

Santamaria admits that getting to where she is now as a Latina did not come without adversity.

"Opportunities are there for everyone that’s what you hear all the time, but I don't think they realize that yes, the opportunity is there for everyone, but the road does not look the same for everyone," said Santamaria.

That is why she is so happy to celebrate Latinx heritage month.

“It means the ability to celebrate us. It means the opportunity to celebrate those who have paved the way because there are many before us that have paved the way so that it is easier for us,” said Santamaria.