My name is Corina Pinto. I am a Community Health Worker at the East Boston Neighborhood Health Center. I work with families whose child or children have asthma to better manage their symptoms and keep them out of the hospital. Through this work, I have been exposed to the social determinants of health that keep residents of our city from living a happy and healthy life, such as poor housing conditions, food insecurity, immigration status, violence, etc. Part of my work is to conduct home visits; as of today, I have been in over one hundred of our patients homes throughout the Metro Boston area.
As someone who grew up in East Boston consistently living under the poverty line, I can relate to the plight of the under served community in East Boston because some of the problems remain the same. It can be very difficult to focus on one's health when there are so many external conditions that push health to the bottom end of priorities. Through my role, I am able to help families put their child's health first by being able to meet them "where they're at" to conduct health education, systems navigation and, what I think is most important, listen to them and try to understand and address their needs outside of their child's asthma; these needs can range from inadequate housing to immigration issues. Every day I learn more and more the importance of addressing the most essential and basic needs alongside addressing a child’s asthma control.
My greatest success is a compilation of many moments in which a family begins to feel hopeful. Hopeful in the sense that their child’s illness will not control their lives. Many families have faced financial and emotional hardships because their child’s asthma keeps them from going to work and reminds them of the fragility of their child’s life. When I am able to convey to families that they can control their child’s asthma and live a life without fear that their child will be “different” for the rest of their lives or unexpectedly stop breathing, that is the success, that is why I do this work.
The biggest challenges I face are the social determinants of health that keep families from being able to fully prioritize their child’s illness. It is difficult to listen to someone educate you on asthma when you are presently worried about the eviction notice your landlord gave you last week.
My vision of Boston’s future is one in which all residents working in different fields begin to understand the lives of those most vulnerable and integrate that knowledge into what they do and how they act.
What advice would you give to the aspiring leaders and changemakers among Boston's millennial population?
My advice is for us millennials to truly learn from the mistakes and successes of the generations before us. We have been taught that competition creates innovation and pushes the boundaries of creativeness; while this is true, I believe that an environment of collaboration would be even more successful. Let us learn from one another. Let us flourish in an environment of collaboration and discovery.
SPARK IMPACT AWARDS
SPARK Boston is Mayor Walsh’s millennial engagement initiative. Our mission is to engage the next generation of civic leaders and social entrepreneurs in the work of city government. From dedicated public servants to community builders and connectors, millennials are some of Boston’s most impactful citizens. Each year, the City of Boston celebrates the millennial contribution to our city with the Annual SPARK Impact Awards.