Carrie Harris

CHW Spotlight: Carrie Harris

Carrie Harris

I have worked at Volunteers of America MN/WIS for 15 years and I absolutely love it! The diverse population I serve face many health and social disparities in their lives and may need support to remain living independently. I have always been interested in health and nutrition and found that this area could be addressed more in the social services we provided. Over the years, I have led several health groups focusing on health improvement. When I came to learn about community health work, I knew this was something I had to be a part of. I looked into what our agency needed to be able to have CHWs on staff and started talking people to get grants to fund the new program. Once funding was achieved, I played a large role in implementation. We hired 2 CHWs and I supervised them. When the opportunity came up, I decided to take the CHW courses myself so I could also help people as a CHW. I very much enjoyed learning how to help people be in control of their conditions and their lives. The education was a great addition to my social service background. I just love meeting people where they are at and helping them make different choices if they choose to, with their health.

Learning about the CHW field is very exciting to me. I believe that not everything fits in the same box and there has to be different approaches to education in the health care systems. I would like to share what I have learned with individuals and agencies and them with me. I would like to make more connections with others in the same field. I would also like to develop new ways to grow the CHW field and make them happen.

As CHWs, we are very aware of the health care disparities. Let’s work together to solve them.

Carrie.harris@voamn.org

Grow Your Knowledge: Breastfeeding Workshops for Community Health Workers

Announcing Breastfeeding Workshops for Community Health Workers

A series of three workshops designed for Community Health Workers (CHWs). Learn from experts and CHWs about the importance of breastfeeding. Grow your knowledge and ability to help the families you serve. 

Email Us to Register

The Nature of Breastfeeding

July 13, 2020 | 12 to 1:30 p.m. | Via Zoom

Learn the lifelong health benefits, how to help Moms overcome difficulties getting started and gain cultural perspectives on the importance of breastfeeding.

Speakers: Ann Oswood, Nurse Midwife, Lactation Consultant & Foua Choua Khang, CHW

The Real World of Breastfeeding

August 3, 2020 | 12 to 1:30 p.m. | Via Zoom

The role of breastfeeding in families and culture, breastfeeding and mental health and during emergencies, the role of the CHW in empowering women to breastfeed.

Speakers: Dr. LaVonne Moore, Nurse Midwife, Lactation Consultant; Shashana Craft, Indigenous breastfeeding counselor, Mental Health Home Visitor; Foua Choua Khang, CHW

Breastfeeding and Getting Back to Work or School

August 24, 2020 | 12 to 1:30 p.m. | Via Zoom

What does it take to breastfeed while returning to work or school? How do CHWs empower women to advocate for themselves to continue breastfeeding? Pumping and equipment how tos. Cultural perspectives and resources.

Speakers: Ann Oswood, Nurse Midwife, Lactation Consultant & LaSherion McDonald, CHW


To register email spmangra@outlook.com.

Certificates of Completion are available for CHWs.

George Floyd Mural outside Cup Foods

CHW Leadership Reflected Through a Leadership Program Session

Who CHWs Are and Why They Bring So Much Value to Healthcare and the World 

Last Thursday, May 28th, CHW Foua Choua Khang facilitated a session on the topic of policy work at the Alliance’s CHW Leadership Development Program. Foua is a CHW Program Director at Hmong American Partnership and a strong CHW leader. 

Foua started with a moment of silence and reflection on the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. She then asked the multiracial, multiethnic group of 16 CHWs from across the state if anyone wanted to share feelings and thoughts related to the event.

Justice for George Floyd as well as the need to address racism and commitment to the diverse communities they serve were themes that threaded through the personal stories and heartfelt comments that followed.

One CHW shared that her child is good friends with one of the witnesses to the crime and this has consumed their life since the incident happened. So many emotions! CHWs discussed the need to prepare their children for how to act in situations they should not have to face; how it robs them of innocence.

Another CHW shared the perspective that the tragedy is widespread. She said, “None of those officers went to work that morning thinking they were going to kill someone. They all have families. They have kids that are looking at them wondering about this. They have parents they have to tell about this. It is not one family – it is five families who will be living with this. What they did is not right. They hurt their families and communities as well as Floyd, his family and community.”

The CHW participants thanked Foua for recognizing the elephant in the (Zoom) room, giving them space to talk about it and connect on an issue that impacts them and the communities they serve.

It was a demonstration of CHW character: compassion; a comprehensive view; amplifying voices directly connected to the community that serves as ground zero in this most recent tragedy.

The class moved on with an exercise in negotiation and policy. “The point is to win,” Foua emphasized as she gave instructions and the class broke up into small groups. When the CHW’s returned together to describe how they had “won” in their given scenario, it turned out that every group’s focus was on the common good. To each group, “winning” meant examining ways to help the most people without abandoning the rest. It became a shared mission, and everyone was considered valuable. They thought about future generations and the ways their hypothetical response would be impactful for years to come. They looked for ways everyone could win.

This is not because they are in a leadership class. This is because they are CHWs.

CHWs view the world through a lens of compassion, trust, community, ethics, and win-win solutions. They consider the here and now, and the generations of people who will come after us. This is what we mean when we speak of the “CHW Character.”

These are the leaders we need.