Listen to Angeles' Story:
My name is Angeles Soria, I’m Mexican, and I was born in Morelia, Michoacán. I am married and have a daughter. I have been a health promoter with different organizations for about 18 years and have been a health promoter for Planned Parenthood for 12 years.
The idea of being a health promoter and helping others came to me when I had just a few months of having arrived in
Wisconsin, specifically Milwaukee, I had a medical issue and did not have health insurance. I asked a number of people for help and the answer I got was that they didn’t know. One day I decided to go for a walk thinking to myself, “surely there has to be something, how is it possible that there isn’t anything?” So I walked all along Madison Street heading westward for about 14 blocks, when I saw a lot of people gathered in a line. So I got closer and also got into the line and began to ask why they were in line. I want to tell you that at that moment there were only men there. And none of the people I was asking the questions to spoke Spanish. And right then another man arrived who did speak Spanish and asked me if I was new to the dinner, so I told him yes and we began to converse. He told me that this place was for the homeless, and that every afternoon they could eat there and that when the doors opened we could enter the dining hall. He also asked me where I was staying because he knew of a place where I could sleep, as long as I had children, since this place only welcomed families, and that if I had a husband, he too would be welcome. When the doors opened, I asked who the person in charge of this service was. It was there that I met a nice social worker who was very pleasant, and I asked if
she knew of any clinic for low income individuals. She responded that yes there was one two doors down from the dining hall, right on this block and that they only treated patients in the morning. And this was how I found what I needed.
It was hard to find help, despite having a lot of initiative, it was especially difficult because I did not have any information on any resources. And that was my motivation, being in that situation where I had to find help made me think about how other people would be experiencing the same issues, if not worse. As the weeks went by, I offered to volunteer in that same place where I had been helped in my free time. In the dining hall, I enjoyed being able to help and seeing the needs in my community. At the clinic, I was also referred to another organization where there were different activities taking place and I volunteered there. They gave me the opportunity to get trained and be part of different workshops, which I still receive from different organizations. With this knowledge and training, I can bring good information to our community.
I worked at a supermarket on the North side of Milwaukee, when someone showed up who asked for permission to
share information on voting and they told me they worked for Planned Parenthood and that they had a program with a variety of topics about sexuality and sex. I already was a health promoter at another organization and had heard of Planned Parenthood as a Family Planning Clinic, but in reality I did not know they performed abortions. A few days after that person came to the supermarket, they called to invite me to Planned Parenthood to check out a training for new health promoters and since I love to explore everything, I said yes. I loved the training and that was when I realized that they performed abortions, but I said, well, to each their own. It did not cause me any sense of admiration—or anything like that, I just took it as something normal. I am very grateful to Esther who was the person that discovered me at the supermarket to become a Health Promoter at Planned Parenthood.
When I graduated as a Health Promoter at Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin, which by the way, was one of the most beautiful graduations, my husband accompanied me and was by my side for about 45 minutes when he realized
where he was. He asked me “But what kind of training takes place here?”, and I told him “It’s Planned Parenthood and they are training us to give talks at people’s houses.” And he asked “What are they about?” I told him what they were about. I think he heard Planned Parenthood but he wasn’t sure where he was. He then told me he was tired and that he was going to wait for me in the car, and I replied that it was fine. After a few minutes I got close to the window and saw him on the first floor sitting down, deep in thought for about 15 minutes. Afterwards, I no longer saw him and said to myself, “He did not like it and this is going to be an obstacle for me.” At the same time, I felt bad that he was not there with me.
While I was at my graduation, I was already thinking of a plan on how I was going to make him understand that I was not going to go out and talk to women and tell them “You’re pregnant, get an abortion.” I was not going to do this. Especially since I had many problems with miscarriages, when I spoke to my husband, he said with good reason, “It’s just you know how much we’ve suffered to become parents, everything we’ve gone through to get pregnant, and you are going to promote and tell women that are pregnant to have an abortion, and what is my family going to say?” My answer was always the same: that I was not going to go out and motivate people to get abortions, and that what he heard from some people was bad information. All of this was difficult for me because my husband comes from a very conservative family and it took a period of about three months to adequately prepare myself to begin working, because my decision had been made that I was going to do it and my husband would agree because he did not want to have any problems and the truth is nothing could make me change my mind.
One night, before going to sleep I began to read about the first topic of Latino cultural values. My husband asked,
“What are you doing? What are you reading?” To which I replied, “I am familiarizing myself with the topics that they taught me in the training at Planned Parenthood.” From this time, I decided that to convince my husband, he would be my first client each night, explaining each topic for an hour, hour and a half. We learned together and grew as a couple in that time. It was very beautiful.
The work we do with Planned Parenthood is directly in families’ homes, it’s super large and unique in all of the state. That’s the beauty in it, because you look for the client, for your first home health party hostess, you talk to them about the program and the benefits of being informed, then are in charge of gathering their family members, friends, and whomever, children six years and older can be present, even the grandpa and grandma who’s 100, 101, whoever is available. Here we find everything we need to convey the information to the community, because Planned Parenthood is dedicated to sexual and reproductive health, in addition to advocacy, which is where we share the resources with the community and where they can find them to use them.
That is what I like the most to continue moving forward and helping my community.
I also want to say that in the work of a Health Promoter, we are like a book, like a voice recorder that is listening, which is a relief for the people that take advantage of this moment for all their needs. We hear stories such as, “I do not have shoes, I do not have the means to buy food” among other things. I have heard different stories that will tear your heart apart, but at the same time you have to be strong because you have to control your emotions to continue listening and
providing them support in that way. But as you leave the home you were in, you cannot avoid breaking down after hearing these stories. Along with being a Health Promoter in that moment, you are also a social worker, a nurse, a doctor, a lawyer, and a psychologist, you are everything. There are stories that leave you restless. I also want to say that when I first started as a Health Promoter with Planned Parenthood, I must confess that I carried my little box of kleenex for when I would be crying, how is it possible for this to happen to the family I am visiting right now?
I lost friendships when they found out that I became a Health Promoter for Planned Parenthood, but the reality is that those people actually lost me. I feel very proud to be a Community Health Promoter for Planned Parenthood with the CCmáS program to be a guide to health prevention and resources for our community.