CIANA, in conjunction with NYC Health + Hospitals, is working to guarantee healthcare for all New Yorkers, regardless of immigration status or ability to pay. Through NYC Care, which provides low-cost healthcare access, our two interns have been tirelessly connecting members of our community with city resources.
We spoke with our NYC Care interns to share their experiences and perspectives on why this program is important to them and the Queens community.
As she pursues her marketing degree from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Raquel Orozco has been working with the NYC Care team as an Outreach Intern to help combat the inequalities exacerbated throughout the pandemic. Having grown up in an immigrant family herself, Raquel uses her own heritage and culture to engage CIANA’s clients.
What made you intern with CIANA, and particularly the NYC Care team?
I have a deep interest in serving others, learning from diversity, and bringing light to the worlds of those around me. I grew up in a family of immigrants in a low-income neighborhood where I was forced to create a new path for my future. It wasn’t easy but being involved in extracurricular activities with community-based organizations gave me a new perspective of the world. Working for an organization like CIANA and the whole NYC Care team, I’m now closer to achieving my goals. I have analyzed my performance and I consider myself a very committed and passionate person with my work.
I will soon graduate with a degree in marketing, and I would love to use my marketing skills to spread the fascinating work of nonprofits. I think there is much more to do in the promotion of community-based organizations, especially now that the pandemic brought to the public eye an amplification of social injustice, inequality, poverty, violence, and mental health issues.
What are your favorite parts about your internship? Any memories that stand out?
One thing that has made my time with CIANA so meaningful is the story of two clients from Peru. They are a married couple in New York City who lost their jobs due to the pandemic and fell ill COVID-19 without health insurance. Thanks to their friend, they heard about NYC Care and I immediately helped them start the application process to sign-up. The first time I called them they couldn’t even speak on the phone because they could barely breathe and had barely enough energy to speak. After two weeks I followed up again, worried about their status. Thankfully, they accepted my assistance and were finally able to access healthcare.
Hunter College Public Health major Manuel Pena brings his passion and dedication to the NYC Care team this semester at CIANA. As a native New Yorker, he is committed to fighting for social justice in his community and will bring his experiences at CIANA to his Masters in Public Health in Epidemiology this coming fall.
What are your relationships like with the people you’re working with?
Working with clients has been a wonderful experience that I will continue to remember as I progress in my career. Through outreach with the NYC Care team, communicating with clients has improved my listening and speaking skills. At CIANA, I have made many connections that have helped me develop in this role and outside of it, and I have met staff that I am proud to call mentors.
Do you have any advice for people looking to get involved in community volunteer work?
My advice would be to look for opportunities through Google and Twitter. Do not be afraid of asking questions and stepping out of your comfort zone! There is something special about doing community volunteer work. You will develop skills and meet people that will be crucial for your development.
We are so thankful for all the work Raquel and Manuel are doing, and our clients are too!
Stay tuned for more features this month!
Become a volunteer: https://www.cianainc.org/join-our-team