Black History Month: Wellness Liaisons

A group gathers for a listening session

NSC supports clients from all over the world. This Black History Month, we are spotlighting stories about Black immigration to our region. Since 2001, the United States has welcomed tens of thousands of refugees from the Democratic Republic of Congo, where armed conflict has displaced millions. In the Philadelphia region, NSC, along with HIAS PA and Lutheran Children and Family Service, helped resettle hundreds of Congolese refugees.

NSC works with Wellness Liaisons, community members hired to help support specific communities in both emotional and practical ways. Refugees fleeing violence and moving through refugee camps often arrive with trauma as well as hope. Wellness Liaisons assist NSC case managers with client communication and cultural understanding. They provide wellness home visits, contribute to learning opportunities, communicate community needs, and more. 

Recently, one of NSC’s Wellness Liaisons who is Swahili-speaking, lifted up important ongoing needs in the Congolese and Swahili-speaking community. In response, NSC conducted a series of workshops at the Snyder Avenue Congregation Church, an important hub and space for worship and connection for this community. After church services, NSC created space for community members to share their needs.

NSC staff collected community members’ names, and then followed up with them to provide the employment training and job opportunities people were seeking. Employment specialists also provided a session on job readiness, resume building, taxes, job applications, and more.

NSC’s language access staff met with the community to discuss providing English language courses, both online and in person. NSC connected the church to our ESOL volunteers who will provide ongoing English classes moving forward.

NSC staff also spoke with the community to share information and answer questions about applying for green cards and citizenship — topics that can be difficult to navigate for English-language learners, given the complexity of the immigration system.

NSC’s Health Access team shared information on making appointments, filling prescriptions, and covid-19 vaccine updates. And the Youth Wellness team shared information with the community on our youth programming including Ready4Life and Wellness Workshops.

What made these sessions successful was careful planning, cultural competence, and close collaboration with community based organizations. NSC arranged for child care during the sessions through our volunteer program, so that parents could attend. And lunch was provided for the whole community.