Since Concilio’s inception in 1987, the agency has relied on a set of guiding principles that have shaped the design and development of all activities and programs. These guiding principles are as follows.
Concilio has operated consistently on the motto of bienestar. While the literal translation is “well-being,” bienestar encompasses much more. Bienestar is a core value intrinsic in all of Concilio’s health programs. Bienestar begins with building a partnership based on confianza (long standing belief and faith between staff and the community); personalismo (empathetic relationship between professionals and clients seeking to improve their lives and the community); respeto; and familismo (commitment to family).
Creative learning is also a key part of bienestar. Concilio’s educational materials, such as murals, teatro (theater), baile (dance), musica (music), or cuentos (storytelling) are a direct result of the agency’s tapping into the wisdom and experience of the community to effectively build awareness of health promotion and disease prevention. Through direct community involvement, Concilio has pioneered successful interactive health promotional materials such as rotafolios, mesa clinicas, and radio novelas.
Partnership-building has been an invaluable asset throughout Concilio’s programs. Although a relatively small agency, Concilio has had extensive impact on underserved communities as a result of its leadership and numerous partnerships, both locally and nationally. Locally, Concilio has pioneered neighborhood coalitions, mobilized communities, developed youth peer leaders and promotores de salud (lay health workers) as community outreach workers.
Nationally, Concilio has participated in numerous health demonstration projects, and has been part of national health initiatives. Concilio was actively involved in the drafting of the Office of Minority Health’s National Standards for Culturally and Linguistically Appropriate Services in Health Care, known as the CLAS standards which define cultural competence.
Long before the publication of CLAS standards, Concilio believed and operated from the premise that linguistically and culturally appropriate communication can cross all barriers in pursuing health promotion and disease prevention in the Hispanic/Latino community. In order to eliminate health disparities in health outcomes, it has been widely researched that cultural competency is a factor that must be addressed in making quality care accessible to individuals. It has been well established that culture influences how people receive health education messages. The research further attests to Concilio’s operating principle for incorporating cultural/linguistic competency in any health program.
Concilio has consistently followed and relied upon local, statewide, and national health data sources in making decisions to launch health programs. Such data sources have included “Healthy People 2000” and “Healthy People 2010”; U.S. Health and Human Services Initiative to Eliminate Racial /Ethnic Disparities in Health; Furthermore, all materials and curricula used by Concilio are based on “best practices;” they are research-based and have been proven to be effective with the targeted community.
Movement gains momentum
In 1987, Dr. Elizabeth Ortiz de Valdez, working as a health consultant for the Maricopa County Health Department, convened a special forum to address the HIV/AIDS epidemic. The forum comprised a wide spectrum of leaders ranging from doctors, nurses, lawyers, educators, social workers, faith-based representatives, parents, and community members. Leaders voiced much concern about not only the lack of HIV/AIDS services in Phoenix, but a lack of any community agency addressing health promotion and disease prevention issues in Phoenix. There was a clear consensus from leaders that a community agency needed to exist to address HIV/AIDS and health promotion disease prevention issues. Subsequently, forum leaders continued to work together in pursuit of creating such an agency. Their hard work and perseverance led to the emergence of Concilio.
In 1988, CLDS launched a community mobilization campaign - Luchando Unidos Contras El SIDA, or LUCES which had the dual meaning of “light.” The campaign, the first of its kind in Arizona, was launched in five cities nationwide and was aimed at the unaddressed HIV/AIDS in the Hispanic/Latino community, and shining a light on the disease. Marching from Central Phoenix to the Sacred Heart Church in Buckeye, over 1,000 participants carried caskets representing the need to bury ignorance, prejudice and the stigma associated with the deadly pandemic. By using culturally appropriate symbols, the event reached the designated community and sent an important message, that ignoring and not talking about HIV could be deadly.
Concilio received the first grant from the Arizona Community Foundation to conduct HIV/AIDS outreach using mesa clinicas (portable story boards) in 1988. CLDS also received a national grant from the Coalition of Spanish-Speaking and Mental Health Organization (COSSMHO) (presently the National Hispanic Health Alliance) to conduct HIV/AIDS outreach as part of the Southwest Border AIDS Coalition project. Concilio also held the first cultural competency training at the San Francisco Renewal Center. Moreover, Concilio trained healthcare providers and case managers on how to reach out to minority families who had lost a loved one to HIV/AIDS. Because of the stigma related to the disease, many of those affected didn’t want anyone to know that their son, daughter, father, or whomever had died from the disease. The agency was set to evolve into an agency that covered the spectrum, from prevention to end of life care. Concilio founded the Cultural Communities United in Health and Wellness (CCUHW). Working with other ethnic minorities, Concilio staged the first Minority AIDS Awareness Day on Oct 12, 1989
Concilio Latino de Salud (CLDS) was founded in 1987, with Clinica Adelante serving as a fiscal agent, and incorporated as a 501C-3 nonprofit organization in 1990. In response to the needs raised in the forum, Concilio’s sole intent was to address health promotion and disease prevention within various communities in Phoenix.
Since 1987, Concilio has served the Hispanic/Latino and other ethnic minority communities through the advocacy and promotion of health education and disease prevention.
Concilio has aggressively collaborated with national and local institutions, neighborhoods, and individuals. Preventative services have been provided to the underserved for almost two decades, through leadership in, and partnership with, these communities. The main purpose and focus of CLDS has been, and continues to be to decrease the racial and ethnic disparities in health outcomes in the transitive areas of HIV/AIDS, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, cancer, immunizations, and infant mortality. As pioneers in neighborhood coalitions, community research, mobilizing a people-centered network of health liaisons, youth-peer leaders, and promotores de salud (lay health workers) who outreach within the community, CLDS has demonstrated its capability, resilience, and innovation in reaching individuals and communities. CLDS has provided a variety of services through government (federal, state, county,) and non-government funded prevention initiatives. This combination of methodology and mission is only part of what makes CLDS unique.
A cross-cultural approach to establishing linkages with diverse Hispanic/Latino audiences, whether bilingual or not, has been crucial to promote the well-being of the community. Through the implementation of culturally appropriate media marketing, campaigns, outreach and health messaging, CLDS has become recognized as an authority in Hispanic/Latino health affairs and cultural issues by local and national media, as well as community leaders.
Partnerships with local churches, schools, public health departments, non-governmental organizations, community health centers, non-governmental health centers, universities, and the media have contributed tremendously to the strength and development of CLDS. But, it is CLDS’ ability to mobilize a grassroots network of community members, such as beauty salons, mercados, and other vendors, towards a common health concern that has proven most effective. Its standing as a well-known leader in the organization and establishment of coalitions, has only aided CLDS in the delivery of preventive services to individuals and families and the network of diverse grassroots community members.
Over the years, CLDS has developed relationships with numerous health and human services organizations, which have enabled the exchange of technical assistance and sharing of effective health interventions, strategies, and other resources. CLDS has a long history of aggressively seeking partnerships with public and private organizations in order to maximize opportunities and strengthen prevention activities in the communities where they are most needed.
Using the wisdom and experience of communities, and respecting their beliefs, CLDS has been able to achieve much in the areas of health promotion and disease prevention, health advocacy, and services, and looks forward to the next years.