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Paulina Erices started working for Jefferson County Public Health a few years ago as a maternal child health specialist. Erices began to hear a common pattern with some of the Spanish speaking families she worked with — they had difficulties finding services in their language. Some families have to drive far outside of Jefferson County to receive certain services, and many families take the bus, making their commute a day long trip.
“Who are we kidding that we are a white county? Communities are disconnected, and the isolation their families are experiencing is huge,” said Erices. According to the United States Census Bureau, 15.4 percent of Jefferson County residents are Hispanic, or Latino.
Erices works with Adelante Jeffco, a network of community members and organizations like Jeffco Public Schools, Jeffco Public Health, Jeffco Public Libraries and the Colorado Statewide Parent Coalition. The network aims to identify opportunities and strategies to offer services to Latino families.
Adelante Jeffco envisions amplifying the capacity of Jeffco Latinos to build and lead solutions and promoting strategies to add cultural relevant services in organizations to provide better services to the community.
Before Lakewood’s Earth Day celebration in April, Adelante Jeffco gathered Spanish speakers to attend a nature walk before going to the event together.
“Adelante Jeffco gives me the opportunity to grow internally, and the opportunity to grow as a person. To be part of Adelante Jeffco provides me with the tools to have confidence in myself and impact my community,” said Cynthia Zapata, the coordinator for Adelante Jeffco.
The network was named a public health champion by Jeffco Public Health in April for working to improve the health of Jefferson County residents.
“I feel very proud to be part of (Adelante Jeffco). I feel it is necessary for our community, and it is accessible to all,” said Esther Caldera, an Adelante Jeffco member.
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