Community Health Workers (CHWs) are frontline public health workers who are trusted members of and/or have an unusually close understanding of the community served, as defined by the American Public Health Association. This trusting relationship enables CHWs to serve as a link between health/social services and the community they serve – facilitating access to services and improving quality and cultural competence of service delivery.
CHWs also build individual and community capacity by increasing health knowledge and self-sufficiency through a range of activities such as outreach, community education, informal counseling, social support and advocacy.
You may have heard about Community Health Workers in our local news recently. This summer in Buncombe County, nearly two dozen community members (of all professions) underwent rigorous training through the CHASM organization’s curriculum. With a special focus on using their skills, relationships and experience to help prevent violence in our community, they became certified CHW’s.
A strong collaboration between SPARC and the successful youth mentoring and educational programs, KL Training Solutions and YTL, led to the development of The P.E.A.C.E. Team – eight full-time CHW’s now partnering and working throughout our community.