The Health Ambassadors group from Worcester State’s Latino Education Institute recently added another award to a growing list of accolades.
A Certificate of Appreciation was awarded to the Health Ambassadors team and Claudia Paiva, the team coordinator, in recognition of their
service and commitment during the pandemic, which included providing health information and helping administer 51,000 vaccine doses to Worcester residents.
The award, presented by Mayor Joseph Petty, City Manager Eric Batista, and Commissioner of Health and Human Services Matilde Castiel, noted that the team’s efforts “markedly improved equity in our city.” The presentation ceremony, at Worcester City Hall, was held March 28 to coincide with National Public Health Week.
The LEI team is made up of Worcester State undergraduate and graduate students from different nationalities who serve as trusted messengers to the city’s under-resourced, and underrepresented population, including Hispanics/Latinx and African Americans.
The Health Ambassadors team was formed in 2020 as part of a city-wide response to the COVID-19 emergency and has expanded its role since then. The team has wide-ranging cultural understanding, competency in eight different languages, and the community knowledge to conduct outreach efforts to people in need throughout the city, connecting them with resources such as SNAP benefits and free hot-meal delivery. Between April 2020 and March 2023, the team distributed 170,000 personal protective equipment kits to help stem the
transmission of infectious disease, especially COVID-19.
“Today we recognize the trusted messengers and the health ambassadors who delivered information on COVID,” Castiel told the team during the presentation ceremony, adding that the team should continue its work in other public health realms. “This piece about trusted
messengers should never go away,” she told the group. “And it should be there for every issue we talk about: diabetes, heart disease, opioids…. All that information needs to go out to the community.”
The team’s most recent honor extends the group’s long list of previous awards, which includes an honorary proclamation from the City of Worcester last year, recognition by the Centers for Disease Control for their work during the pandemic, an honor from the White House Food Security Task Force presented by U.S. Rep Jim McGovern in 2021, and numerous community awards.
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