A Louisiana Mother Empowers Herself and Secures a Brighter Future

About a year ago, Dinah James was at a low point in her life. The New Orleans resident and single mother had lost her job of many years and was having trouble finding employment. Beyond that, her resources were limited and, without any income, she wasn’t able to afford basic necessities, like food.

"I needed help," Dinah said. “I didn’t know where to go or where to turn.”

That’s when she met Rosalyn Mariano, a community health worker with DePaul Community Health Centers formerly Daughters of Charity Health Centers. 

Rosalyn guided Dinah through the process of applying for assistance from Medicaid and other social programs, helped her enroll in a job training program and even dropped off a box full of food for Dinah and her family. 

“She just started crying,” Rosalyn said. “That was a wonderful experience just to be able to say, ‘Here, is some food until the benefits actually start.’ I feel so grateful to just be a part of that journey with Dinah and her family.” 

Dinah graduated from her job training program in January and is now applying for jobs as an administrative assistant. She is optimistic about her future and ready to embrace it. 

Community health workers, like Rosalyn, help remove social barriers by guiding individuals in need through the health care system, connecting them to essential social services along the way. DePaul Community Health Centers recognizes the value of these workers, and has launched an ambitious outreach program that reaches thousands of people each year, with the support of UnitedHealthcare. 

Throughout its 185-year history in New Orleans, DePaul Community Health Centers has provided health care access for everyone, regardless of ability to pay. With the help of an additional $1 million UnitedHealthcare grant that was provided in 2019, DCHC continues to fulfill its mission, reaching out to the underserved through the Care Fellowship program. The initiative, which launched in 2018 with a $1.5 million UnitedHealthcare grant, now boasts a full-time team of 15 community health workers that have helped more than 11,000 people in need.  

For Dinah, the program has been a true blessing — one that got her back on her feet in a time she needed it the most. 

“I was very grateful to DePaul Community Health Centers to be there for people like me,” she said. “They helped me succeed and move on from a downfall.”