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PASOs empowers healthy Latino communities in South Carolina

PASOs is an organization in South Carolina that is dedicated to educating and providing helpful resources to the Latino community, focusing especially on healthcare and services for families.

“PASOs started in 2005 serving two counties, doing prenatal education with small groups of women around a table in a conference room,” says Julie Smithwick, Founder and Executive Director of the organization, in the “PASOs An Introduction” video.

Now, they serve over 6,000 individuals in 29 counties, partnering with over 2,000 organizations to provide the Latino population of South Carolina with the most effective resources and care possible. Their commitment to education, family, and community involvement has led them to offer services such as educational workshops and classes, guiding these individuals on topics like early childhood development and healthcare decisions.

“We offer workshops connecting to resources on the differences in accessing care; so we educate our community on topics such as the difference between an emergency room or urgent care visit, and the costs associated with them,” explained Ana Pavon, the Program Coordinator for PASOs in the Midlands.

Pavon described this service and elaborated on some of the even more extensive programs designed to support the Latino community, all made possible through PASOs’ partners.“We are often approached by people in the community who have different health conditions and are in need of more extensive medical treatment or emergency care. We help them through our partners such as Palmetto Health, Providence Hospital, and Lexington Medical Center and we try to find the best programs that those partners offer to help our participant; whether it is with the bill, financial resources, or surgery.”

Another major series of PASOs events that is made possible with the support of their participating organizations is the health fairs, which are typically held twice a year, the spring health fair being the most popular.

This year’s first health fair was held on April 19 and was sponsored by Sherwin Williams. Having attended this spring’s health fair, I have firsthand knowledge that it was remarkably well-organized and a great success. This family-friendly event offered such a wide range of informational resources, it’s hard to imagine any need that was not adequately addressed. Some of the organizations present were Family Connections, Lexington Medical Center, South Carolina Legal Services, and the American Heart Association, to name only a few. The fair also held health, dental and speech screenings, as well as opportunities to sign up for Medicaid, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), and Women, Infants, and Children (WIC).

PASOs is dedicated to providing as many resources as possible to ensure the Latino population of South Carolina has the knowledge they need to thrive.

“PASOs is going to continue to work until families are empowered with the information, skills, and ability to really advocate for themselves and get that information and those resources they want for their families, and until all of our organizations in the state are able to reach out in a culturally appropriate way,” asserted Smithwick.

For more information about PASOs and how to get involved, go to http://www.scpasos.org.

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