Over the past couple of weeks AmeriCorps members and Access to Care Coordinators have teamed up to do outreach spanning all sections of Waterbury, to inform the public about our newest Community Health Center, which has opened at 51 North Elm Street in Waterbury, CT. As you may or may not know, the city of Waterbury covers an area of approximately 29 sq miles and has a population of approximately 111,000 people. The city is quite diverse and varies greatly from section to section and even from one neighborhood to another.
Up to this point, my time in Waterbury has been limited. I have visited the mall on several occasions and have visited parts of the city where there is an active Albanian community, but nothing prepared me for what I saw during the first day of outreach. I have been around the world and have visited many impoverished countries so it usually takes a lot to shock me, but what I saw was similar to what I have seen in those countries. There were people hanging out with no jobs and nothing to do. Some of the homes were in such bad shape that it appeared safer to be on the street. Boarded up homes laced with graffiti lined the streets, along with the faces looking for signs of hope. This area of Waterbury seemed like a country of its own. People seemed stuck in time with too few opportunities to move forward in such a depressed area. Most people initially seemed shocked to see our unfamiliar faces in their neighborhoods, but eventually they were happy to hear what we had to say.
As days of outreach continued, we all shared our stories and experiences. In the end, we reached our goal, which was to reach as many people as possible and to let them know that “health care is a right, not a privilege” and that we will be there for them when they need us.
I am looking forward to continuing outreach on Monday and seeing yet a new face of Waterbury and its residents.
Thanks to all AmeriCorps members and Access to Care Coordinators for making this expansive outreach possible!