Health outreach program for Latinx community shows early success

Although it’s less than a year old, a pilot program to facilitate healthcare and social service use among native Spanish speakers in Athens-Clarke County has already exceeded its organizers’ expectations.

“We set a goal of serving at least 100 individuals by year’s end, but we’ve surpassed that just six months out,” said Rebecca Matthew, the assistant professor in the University of Georgia School of Social Work who directs the project.

The Lazos Hispanos (Hispanic Links) program serves as a bridge between health and social service providers and the local Latinx community.  Since completing training in October, nine Spanish-speaking health workers, or promotoras, have made referrals for at least 165 people reported MSW/MPH student Alejandra Calva at a meeting of program participants and stakeholders held at the Fanning Institute for Leadership Development.

The unexpected early success of the program points to a strong need for culturally responsive outreach among the county’s growing Latinx community, said Matthew.

In recognition of the program’s effectiveness, Representative Deborah Gonzalez, Georgia District 117, presented a state legislature resolution that recognized and commended Lazos Hispanos “for its commitment to advocacy, education and service to others,” and extended “the most sincere best wishes for continued growth, development and success.”

The program is funded by the UGA President’s Office Interdisciplinary Seed Grant Program. The program was developed in response to a needs survey conducted in 2016 by UGA’s Latin American and Caribbean Studies Institute.

Matthew’s co-principal investigators are Pamela Orpinas, professor of health promotion and behavior, College of Public Health, J. Maria Bermudez, associate professor, human development and family science, College of Family and Consumer Sciences; and Carolina Darbisi, public service associate and assistant director for research and evaluation, J.W. Fanning Institute for Leadership Development.

To learn more about Lazos Hispanos project, visit

– Laurie Anderson

Posted May 3, 2018.

The original news piece can be found on the UGA School of Social Work website.