July 2, 2012

Sisters of Charity Foundation of South Caroliona hosts listening session with Latino community leaders

The Sisters of Charity Foundation of South Carolina and the Puentes Project recently held a listening session on focused on hearing from Latino immigrants in South Carolina. Community ambassadors of the Puentes Project shared their stories with foundation staff and board.

The Puentes Project, a foundation grantee, is an outgrowth of PASOs, a program developed by the University of South Carolina Arnold School of Public Health to improve health care for Latinos who live in Lexington and Richland counties. The Puentes Project provides an intense leadership development initiative for Latino leaders, called community ambassadors, that voice their desire to serve as change agents in the area of community health. The foundation is deeply aware of how often Latino immigrant voices go unheard in our community. The listening session provided an opportunity to honor those voices. Community ambassadors of the program shared their journey and the challenges they have overcome. They offered suggestions to help other Latino families living in South Carolina.

“I never thought about how hard it would be to live in another country. It was very difficult. My eyes were blinded and I couldn’t understand anyone,” remarked a Community ambassador.

The foundation's senior director of research, Stephanie Cooper-Lewter, shared, “Tonight we heard Puentes community ambassadors share their hopes and dreams for the future of their families and Latino community in South Carolina. Despite the risks, and for many, very difficult journeys and experiences in South Carolina, they are committed to learn as much as possible in order to lead compassionately and be a bridge for others. The Puentes Project has given them a place for their voices to become strong. Their faith and courageous leadership journeys inspire us all.”

"Not only did we hear and learn, but we felt," said Foundation President Tom Keith. "We felt the many challenges that the Latino community faces. I now have a greater appreciation for their many challenges and I am inspired by their determination and faith."

As part of its commitment to reduce poverty in South Carolina, the Sisters of Charity Foundation of South Carolina has visited different communities across the state to listen directly to the voices of individuals and families around issues that surround poverty. It is a small step to achieve the foundation's vision that families in South Carolina have the resources to live out of poverty. This marked the foundation’s tenth listening session since embarking on the strategy. A year-end summary from the 2010 and 2011 listening sessions is available on the foundation’s website.

About Sisters of Charity Foundation of South Carolina
The Sisters of Charity Foundation of South Carolina, established in 1996, is a ministry of the Sisters of Charity Health System. The foundation is committed to addressing the needs of the poor and underserved in all 46 South Carolina counties, and strategically uses resources to reduce poverty through action, advocacy and leadership.

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From its Cleveland headquarters, the Sisters of Charity Health System provides oversight, leadership and strategic direction to more than 20 organizations responding to community needs in Canton and Cleveland, Ohio, and South Carolina.

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