Assistance and Advocates - PASOs Program

August 12, 2015 | Posted By: Connor Watkins

PASO

Lexington County has one of the largest Latino populations in South Carolina, and one of the Greater Lexington Chamber’s newest members is in the business of assisting and advocating for those people.

PASOs Programs, founded in 2005, recently joined the Chamber and celebrated with a ribbon cutting ceremony.

PASOs provides vital information on preventative health care, positive parenting, and early childhood development to the Latino communities of SC. PASOs develops teams of Latino Community Workers who share this information with others in a natural way and help them connect to the resources they need to lead healthy lives. PASOs also works with providers to make sure they are serving Latino patients and clients effectively. As advocates for their communities, PASOs Community Health Workers voice the perspective of Latino families and bring ideas for change to decision-makers.

PASOs, which employs 11 people in the Midlands and 20 people statewide, provides services unlike any other business in the area. PASOs has locations in areas of the state where Latino communities are concentrated, which is the case in Lexington County, where nearly six percent of the population is Latino.

“PASOs is the only far-reaching and holistic organization in the Midlands that provides services to both Latino families and service providers,” Executive Director Julie Smithwick said. “By helping families to adopt healthy habits and seek early preventative care, PASOs provides cost savings to our health care and social service system. PASOs helps to bridge the gaps in culture and information so that everyone benefits from a healthier society.”

PASOs, which means “steps” in Spanish, is a community-based organization affiliated with the Arnold School of Public Health at the University of South Carolina. With a vision of a healthy South Carolina with healthy Latino communities, PASOs helps the Latino community and service providers work together for strong and healthy families. This is done through education, support, and grassroots leadership development. In 2012, PASOs was recognized as the “Promising Practice of the Year” by the National Association of Maternal and Child Health Programs.

Plans for the future include strengthening the program model and sustainability, along with expanding to new communities around the state. PASOs also plans to continue providing formalized training for Community Health Workers and add initiatives to improve the health and well-being of Latino families. In the Midlands, the plan is to continue offering programming focused on maternal and child health, positive parenting, early childhood development, and access to resources.

“As a strengths-based organization, PASOs helps to empower people with the knowledge and ability to make healthy, informed decisions. We provide the space for Latino immigrant families to make a difference in their communities, to be a voice for change, and to lead by example,” Smithwick said. “Also, we delight in diverse communities that we serve. People often tell us that being in PASOs is like being with family.”

PASOs is a trusted source of information for the Latino communities in SC. PASOs offers Corporate Partnerships to sponsors who would like to support their work and gain recognition in Latino communities across the state. PASOs also offers cultural competency trainings for organizations looking to develop a greater understanding of Latino culture. Contact Paulina Graham for more information at paulina@scpasos.org.

For more information about PASOs, visit www.scpasos.org. You can also Like PASOs Program on Facebook and follow @SCPASOS on Twitter.