Center for Nonviolence advocates for the health of immigrants

Susana Ruiz Vieyra, Hispanic Health Advocate at Center for Nonviolence

“Susana is currently serving a single mother household who has been displaced after her partner was charged with domestic battery and was deported. She currently does not have a support system.

Aside from assisting her in navigating the criminal justice system and providing referrals to build a support system, Susana has also been serving in the role of her medical interpreter. She was able to advocate for her and helped her transfer her children to the same medical provider. She also interpreted her children’s wellness appointments and her WIC appointments.

In the beginning, the client did not have confidence in herself to speak with the medical staff on her own. By having Susana by her side and guiding her, she has started to feel more comfortable, and most recently, she felt comfortable reaching out to the medical office on her own and scheduling a checkup for her child. Susana remarks that it has been amazing to be able to serve her, but without the medical interpreter training, she would not have been qualified to interpret for this client. It is helpful that Susana can briefly step out of her advocate role and serve as a medical interpreter because she knows that her client does not feel comfortable when a telephonic interpreter is present. She has shared with Susana that she feels rushed and at times cannot understand the interpreters because they speak so fast.”

This recent message from the Center for Nonviolence perfectly illustrates the dire circumstances that many immigrants can face when entering a new country. Helping vulnerable immigrants access medical and social services aligns deeply with the values of the St. Joe Foundation. Medical interpreters and advocates like Susana, from Center for Nonviolence, are essential to safeguarding the health and dignity of non-native English-speaking people by accompanying them through difficulties unique to immigrants.

Foundation support, by training and funding medical interpreters, continues a long legacy of caring for the health of vulnerable immigrants, first begun by the St. Joe Foundation Sponsor, The Poor Handmaids of Jesus Christ, and Saint Katharina Kasper. In 1868, it was the needs of German immigrants in Indiana who inspired Saint Katharina to send the first Poor Handmaids to the United States.

Over time, the countries of origin may change for immigrants arriving in Allen County, Indiana, but the mission of the St. Joe Foundation to walk alongside these new neighbors remains as strong as ever. The Foundation has provided grant support for these services since 2005.