Our Community Health Worker Program – Connecting Clients with Assistance and Hope

June 24, 2024 | Posted in Health, Healthy Initiatives, Affordable Housing, Housing, Financial Stability |

Two years ago, Orisbel San Miguel (left) came to the United States from Cuba to find a better life for herself and her daughter, who is now 11 years old. While her life here was better, it was far from perfect. They moved into her father’s home in the Austin area. They were two of the eight people who were sharing his apartment with just one bathroom. Orisbel got a job cleaning rooms at a hotel, but the pay was low and her work hours were constantly being reduced. 

This past February brought a breakthrough for the mother and daughter. Orisbel came to our Laurel Creek Apartments with a friend who had told her about our no cost Healthy Food Pantry program that was open to the public. The friend also had an appointment with another Foundation Communities Health Initiatives service, a community health worker who would connect her with agencies who could offer whatever assistance she needed.

“We can provide all kinds of assistance legally,” said Community Health Worker Brenda Garcia. “We work with different agencies. It’s like, for example, if I ask you do you need help with rent, utilities, food, medical, health insurance, I ask all these kinds of questions.”

Garcia found out about Orisbel’s situation. She helped her apply for assistance, including deeply affordable housing through our Children’s HOME Initiative (CHI) program. Six weeks later, Orisbel and her daughter had their own apartment in our Crossroads community. Health Initiatives and CHI worked together to help the family get furniture and household items. Orisbel says her life is much less stressful because she doesn’t always have to worry about work, money and food.

Asked about the Community Health Worker program, Orisbel said, “It’s a life saver. For a person that knows nothing about the culture of this country. It gives hope.”

Community Health Worker Maria Nuñez sharing information about mental health resources at Zilker Studios

Currently, our Health Initiatives program has two community health workers who spread the word about their services at Foundation Communities properties all over Austin at Healthy Food Pantries, Health Fairs and at events for residents. They also host their own events to share information about health concerns with the public. Currently funded by Austin Public Health, the workers are getting busier every month due to referrals from other nonprofits. And, they’re making a difference for many of our neighbors. “We don’t stop until they find what they need,” said Garcia.


As for Orisbel, her CHI caseworker is helping her find a more reliable job and apply for food benefits. She’s also planning to go back to school so she can create a better life for herself and her daughter. In February, she came to Laurel Creek  just hoping to pick up some food for the week. Now, she has new hope for the future.