PASOs is a nonprofit that provides resources for the Latino community to take steps towards a healthier population. Here, South Carolina Public Radio’s Laura Hunsberger talks with the Executive Director, Julie Smithwick, and the Midland’s Director, Ana Cossio, about the organizations return to their primary mission.
Julie Smithwick, Executive Director of PASOs, says South Carolina has one of the fastest growing Latinopopulations in the country. According to Smithwick, the Latino immigrant population is rising faster than their needs can be met. PASOs’ primary mission is to bridge this gap between services and needs by offering resources for health, nutrition and child care.
The organizations uses community health workers called Promotores to work in Latino communities to help connect individuals to the resources they need to be healthy and successful.
Many immigrants struggle to balance their own culture and the culture of their new country. Assimilating into US culture can mean taking on new traditions and language; it can also mean picking up on some of Americans’ bad habits. Smithwick says the high level of stress and fast pace of life can lead to immigrants eating fast food, smoking, and drinking more than they were accustomed to in their country of origin.
PASO's Midlands Director Ana Cossio emigrated from Cuba in 2004 to find many struggles in her new country. Learning a new language was a big hurdle, but Cossio found the most difficult part of coming to America were her own expectations. She explains that while one may dream of things being easier in America, the reality is often very different than imagined.
See our past coverage of PASOs: Nonprofits Bridge Recovery Gap to S.C.’s Latino Community