UNM's Comadre a Comadre, a College of Education program co-developed in 2003, was awarded the "Model Program of the Year by the New Mexico Community Health Workers Association (NMCHW) at its 17th annual Training Conference recently. The award is given to programs who have shown "exceptional work in their community."
"We are truly honored to receive this award," said Elba Saavedra, Comadre a Comadre program director. "Community Health Workers deliver a diversity of services through education, advocacy, resources and social support which are in valuable to the community. Collectively, staff coordinator, peer mentors and navigators, volunteers and students, deliver a ‘powerhouse' of support to Hispanic/Latina women throughout the continuum of breast care."
The program was co-founded by Saavedra and local community breast cancer survivors who saw the need to create a program that would provide advocacy, education, emotional support, and resources for women with breast cancer and women with breast health needs in a culturally-linguistically manner. It was designed to integrate the important Hispanic/Latino values and strong beliefs, such as the importance of family, prayer and spirituality.
"The program has brought breast health classes and healthcare navigation assistance to more than 1,500 Hispanic/Latina women since 2010 as well as case management, follow-up and psychosocial support to over 300 Hispanic/Latina women with breast cancer," said Saavedra.
Part of the nomination read: "The program co-founders dared to validate the importance of embracing these values, which serve to protect when life without warning shakes us to the our core. The program is unique in that it recruits and trains Peer Mentors and Peer Navigators, who are both Hispanic/Latinas and breast cancer survivors, to provide one-on-one emotional support and help women in navigating the healthcare system.
"Through their collective efforts there is now more dialog and a personal ‘face' has been placed on cancer slowly removing the veil of ‘silence' and fear often associated with having this disease in our community. Were it not for the unselfish commitment of the program's entire staff, many women would have faced their breast cancer journey in silence and without the services they needed. Collectively, the Comadre Program embodies the true spirit of giving and helping with compassion."
In addition to Saavedra, the Comadre a Comadre staff includes: Gena Laughlin, project coordinator; Dorali Calderon, community resource navigator; Rosario Gonzales, Catherine Landavazo, Esther Leyba and Dalila Romero, Comadre Peer Mentors and Navigators; Rosa Morales and Julia Aguilera, volunteers; and UNM students Lisa Herrera, Carmengloria Wichlens, Michelle Wong and Anddra Lamberson.
For more information, visit: Comadre a Comadre.
For more information on the NMCHW, visit: New Mexico Community Health Workers Association.
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