Many cultures, one purpose: changing families, changing communities. Muchas culturas un proposito: haciendo la diferencia en las familias, haciendo la diferencia en las comunidades
Interfaith Health Service and Families in Action were pleased to host Methodist College Mobile Clinic and nursing students past month at our St. Francis Church site. The eight nursing students, accompanied by Dr. Kelly Zinn, MSN, RN, Nursing Professor, provided blood sugar screenings, height and weight measurements, bmi, and blood pressure checks. Our literacy students, along with our Families in Action participants and staff, were honored to work with such an amazing group of students and faculty.
Our participants, men, women and children over 18, were pleased with their health screening results and credit regular participation in educational, nutritional and exercise programs conducted via Interfaith with meeting their health and wellness needs. As a result of the mobile clinic visit, additional information was requested by several participants concerning elevated blood sugar levels and Gema and I are now planning to facilitate a brief question and answer forum on this topic with one of our Creighton physician volunteers in the future.
I have been in contact with Dr. Zinn to look at the possibility of the mobile clinic returning to a different Families in Action site in the Fall. Both Gema and I welcome additional partnerships and programs to continue serving our community in South Omaha.
Virginia McGill and Gema Wolde, Interfaith and Families in Action
This Friday the 11th we will be hosting another Zumbathon!!!!! It will take place on the Creighton University Campus in the Kiewit Fitness Center located on 24th and Cass Street. We will begin at 5:30 and dance until 7:00!! The cost is $5 to participate and childcare will be provided. Thank you so much for your support and we will see you tomorrow night!!
Recently Virginia McGill won the Award for Latino Partner of the Year!!!
This award recognizes a non Latino(a)/Hispanic individual or business who has exhibited outstanding leadership in improving the lives of Latinos/Hispanics in Nebraska.
Congratulations and a huge Thank You to Virginia for all she has done!!!!
Interfaith Health Service (IHS) is a unique and successful collaborative effort of hope and healing based in South Omaha. IHS began in 1997 as a coalition of congregations, health care providers, community agencies and college personnel seeking to promote health and make a difference in a community that is often overlooked and is at-risk for poor health outcomes. It has grown to meet the changing needs of the South Omaha community.
Families In Action has become a beacon of hope for Latinas and their families in the South Omaha community. It began as a simple gathering place and time for new immigrants and quickly grew into a place of community learning and success. The women, including staff and participants, draw on each other’s strengths, wisdom and beliefs that their lives can be what they want them to be. Over 8,000 families take part in programming each year, including exercise, educational classes, youth and children’s programming, sewing and micro-business and art projects. Continue reading ‘Families in Action Summary’
The video created to highlight the Latinas en Accion program that received a National Health and Human Services award can be seen by clicking on this link:
This award highlights the value and importance of this outreach effort in the Omaha community.
This second video highlights the successful efforts of Latinas new initiative, Latinas in Business/Latinas en Negocios and expanded to a new level this year. Latinas in Business accompanies participants in building new skills in sewing and building economic strength through micro-business opportunities. Watch it here:
Interfaith Health Service/Servicios de Salud de Interfaith (IHS) is a unique and successful collaborative effort of hope and healing based in South Omaha. IHS began in 1997 as a coalition of congregations, health care providers, community agencies and college personnel seeking to promote health and make a difference in a community that is often overlooked and is at-risk for poor health outcomes. IHS is well known within the South Omaha community as a true collaborating organization with an outstanding record of building highly successful programs and has grown and evolved to continually meet the needs of the community.
IHS has created a strong bond with community residents and stands ready to meet the growing and changing needs within the Southeast Omaha community. IHS has also developed strong and successful partnerships with community organizations and churches and for eight years, IHS has worked closely with Latina women through its Latinas in Action program to develop educational and exercise programs that reach hundreds of families—women and children– monthly. There have been very few programs in the Latina community that have experienced success similar to that of Interfaith. In November 2007, Interfaith gained national recognition when chosen to receive the 2007 Health Innovation in Prevention Award from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention and the United States Department of Health and Human Services.
“I joined Interfaith’s Latinas in Action program because it is a group that welcomes
Latinas and there are no other groups like it that I have seen. I love to dance and
“I enjoy everything about Interfaith programs! The staff is very helpful. All the other
women and their children are like a 2nd family to me. Classes are right in my
neighborhood and my children can attend all the education, exercise, sewing or
micro-business classes with me. There is no other group like Latinas in Action in
Omaha.” Martha age 34, Interfaith Health Service participant.
The success of Latinas in Action is forged by the women involved with programs. Participants serve as leaders and decide, along with dedicated staff, what programs are needed and develop strategies to meet goals. Over the years, many individual and group successes have been celebrated. The core group has moved beyond support, health and fitness to developing into other areas of self-actualization. Information is gathered from all participants and families by means of written surveys and focus groups and runs concurrent with the program. This creates a seamless objective overview of the program and truly measures the over-all success of the project. Another unique decision made by the participants and staff is to provide sweat equity to the facilities that host them. For example, participants and staff worked on the basement of the church they exercise in – painting and fixing the walls and finishing the floors. Participants and staff also clean the facilities they use as a part of the sweat equity initiative.
As a result of on-going health education, 100% of Latinas in Action wellness participants reported at least one behavioral or physiological change, including weight loss, stress reduction, decreased cholesterol, elimination of depression, regular monitoring of blood pressure and reducing salt, sugar and fat content in food preparation. Health education topics and presentation include cardiovascular health, nutrition, diabetes, domestic violence, breast health and self-examination, family safety and other health topics. Classes also offer health screenings and baseline physiological indicators, and instruction of self-monitoring target and resting heart rate.
By developing a new initiative, Latinas in Business/Latinas en Negocios and introducing the basics of business development, Interfaith expanded to a new level this year. Latinas in Business facilitates participants in building new skills in sewing and builds economic strength for the women involved. Latinas in Business has expanded to include local business leaders, as well as expanded in several different areas of interest (including sewing, finance, child care, cooking) and has evolved into a supportive co-op that has allowed women to share their expertise while learning something new in the process. Participants are utilizing their critical thinking skills and are designing their own futures – be it through education, sewing classes, business development or other economic gains – they are achieving their dreams through this partnership. The women are empowering one another by coming together on a regular basis and learning – about healthier lifestyles, a new trade, formal education and business development. With the addition of the Latinas in Business and the infusion of the business leadership from within the community – our women are growing and expanding, personally, professionally and academically. These engaged community residents and their children will ultimately change the South Omaha community.
Highlights and Growth in 2010
• Partnerships to develop a Micro business – teaching business skills and producing revenue for women involved with Latinas in Action and Interfaith Health Service.
• New partnership with Pixan Ixim, a group dedicated to education outreach for Guatemalan immigrants in South Omaha. IHS offers health education to over 100 families enrolled in literacy and GED programs.
• 100% of children and teenage participants in Amigos in Action Programs, run concurrently with Latinas in Action, return to participate in programming. Programming includes: art, physical activity, health and wellness education and a monthly book club.
• IHS developed and implemented sewing classes as part of our Latinas in Business initiative. Classes filled to capacity in the first week. 100% of participants attending one class have returned to finish at least one product to sell. 70% of participants are survivors of domestic violence. 100% of participants meet federal income guideline definition of material poverty.
• Participants continued to volunteer within the program and donate financially – participant contributions doubled this past year.
• Participants began volunteering for local schools and community-based programs. They also organized regular donations of food, baby clothing and toys for families in the community
• Partnered with Arts For All to provide exercise and arts education to youth and children. The art work produced through this program has been displayed in the local community centers and churches.
• IHS added a morning educational and exercise program that filled to capacity for domestic violence survivors (women and children). This initiative is endorsed by the lead Latina domestic violence counselor at the YWCA who also assists with programming.
• Latinas in Action has developed a literacy and continuing education fund – funded by the participants and given to community residents – this has helped Latinas further their education. IHS began working with individuals to obtain scholarships for higher education and working with colleges and universities to admit our participants
• IHS began an in-home Promotora program where staff visits participants to provide specific individualized health education to families. This has been especially effective with the families based in an oral, rather than written, tradition or families dealing with a serious illness.
• Expansion of the Latinas In Business to include business basics, taught by community leaders.
• Inter-generational empowerment that allows women to share their own talents and abilities with other women, thus growing stronger independently and as a whole.
Attendance is at an all-time high in all programs and records also indicate that at 100% of participants who join continue to participate. Most importantly, women are reporting that they are using information provided in classes to teach their children, and are feeling empowered in learning about business and new skills. Participants report that Latinas in Action and Latinas in Business programming has empowered them to take on new challenges with increased confidence.
Our funding partnerships are also extremely important to Interfaith. Without them, Interfaith would be unable to serve families effectively. Initial support was generously provided by the William and Ruth Scott Family Foundation, and their support continues to help IHS meet community programming needs. Latinas in Action, through Interfaith Health Service, has also garnered support from several key foundations, including: Alegent, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Countryside Community Church, Grace Lutheran Church, Mercy Ministry/Sisters of Mercy of the Americas, Nebraska Minority Health, W.K. Kellogg Foundation, Omaha Community Foundation, Omaha Women’s Fund, Tenet Foundation, Thrivent for Lutherans, and the Women of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America. This diverse collection of supporters demonstrates the need for preventative services and education in the South Omaha. In these challenging economic times, our participants and their families are struggling to meet daily needs, so your thoughts, prayers and contributions are welcomed and appreciated. Interfaith looks forward to continued success and partnerships in 2011!
Virginia D. McGill, MA,
Director, Interfaith Health Service/Servicios de Salud de Interfaith
Interfaith Health Services, through Latinas in Action, launched a hands-on micro-business and sewing program. It is rare that a project of this nature succeeds from the beginning, and I believe our demonstrated success speaks to the trust we have built up in the community over the years. Our track record at Interfaith demonstrates commitment to the community at large and to forging new and innovative partnerships while serving a record number of families each month.
Our micro-business initiative started with the initial donation of twelve high-end wedding dresses from a Vice-President at Wells Fargo Bank who contacted me last fall seeking a way to distribute the dresses in the community. Our participants worked together to re-bead and sell the dresses to women in the South Omaha and surrounding areas seeking affordable wedding dresses.
One of our participants, Ramona, offered to teach sewing classes to participants and women in the community interested in learning more about machine sewing, craft design and small business structuring. Many of our Latinas in Action participants have a knowledge of hand sewing but have never had the opportunity to sew using machines. Classes began with nine students signed up and attending, along with 7 children. Within a week that number doubled with over a dozen women attending (word of mouth spread and participants brought friends). There is a great deal of excitement as the women learn more about sewing and business plans. Our waiting list for future classes is full, as well. Several business leaders in the community will be speaking with future classes about their own perspectives on business.
Ramona is a highly skilled instructor and she shared with me that she studied sewing in high school and that in the decades since then, she has developed her natural gift for creating dresses and clothing. Ramona opened her own business in South Omaha making formal dresses for quinceaneras and is well-respected throughout the community. Her skills are evident in her teaching and class preparations. She is professional, patient and able to demonstrate correct sewing methods to each student at some point during each two hour class. Her hands-on approach makes the subject matter easier to digest and “easier to learn“, according to participants.
It has been inspiring to see women in the community so enthused about joining together and learning together. One participant, Martha, walks several miles while pushing her year old daughter in a stroller to get to class each week. Martha invited me to her house, to get to know her and her family a bit more and talk with her about the class. At nineteen years of age, Martha has a dream of owning her own business some day. She shared with me that she is enjoying learning and being with other women. She is also grateful that childcare is provided on site since her husband works construction and she has no other family to help her take care of their son.
Over 50% of our women involved in the micro-business program are survivors of domestic violence. Classes provide a way for women to support one another, as well as continue their own journey toward self-sufficiency. The lead domestic violence advocate for the YWCA has conducted several site visits to classes and has stated that the program is “needed in the community“ and recommends it highly to her clients.
This latest program is helping participants learn more while provide concrete ideas regarding small business start-up and providing the tools for economic growth. At Interfaith, we rely on the support and hard work of so many collaborators, funders and participants. Without your support, our work would not be possible.
Virginia McGill, IHS
Desfile de Modas
Todo tipo de Vestidos, Novias, Quinceañeras, Damas, de Noche. Etc…
Donde: Grace Lutheran Church
1326 S 26th St Omaha
(entre la woolworth y Popleton)
Cuando: Viernes, 30 de Julio del 2010
Hora: 5pm a 7pm
Para mayor información, llame a
Gema: 616-4721 ó IHS 660-6689