Elizabeth Choe, MSW, Director of Social Work Services
The famous pop rock band, REM, once sang “Everybody hurts”. These lyrics came to life for me as I was pursuing my Master of Social work. Through the cases we studied in class to the treatment I was administering to clients and even through my family and friends, I began to see that in some way, shape or form, that everybody was, indeed, hurting. Whether it was a physical ailment, a psychological imbalance or a socioeconomic struggle, there were deficits in so many areas of peoples’ lives, regardless of their race, status, gender or education. It was through this realization that I set out to become an agent who would bring access to quality care and equilibrium to those who need it.

In my various roles as a social worker and counselor, I have put my client’s needs at the forefront and have worked to provide resources and strategies in areas where a client might have struggles. I have also tried to bring to life a client’s sense of worth and dignity, no matter what their situation. As New Life Health Center is situated in one of the most diverse zip codes in America, I have had the privilege of working alongside clients with various diagnoses along the DSM-IV, clients who are marginalized due to their status and clients who cannot advocate for themselves or their networks due to language or cultural barriers.

Working within the clinical setting does have its share of difficulties such as limited access to resources due to tight budgets, especially in the area of social work. “Health” is usually defined and prioritized to the physical, but I believe the emotional part of a human being is just as important and should be given equal attention. Additionally, clinics are focusing their efforts on the number of patients seen rather than quality of care. These factors suffocate the ability to provide a culture of health when our main goal should be providing our clients with accessible, holistic treatment.

I am very excited to be a part of this community health center and to engage further with our Latino day laborer population. I have worked with a few of these men already and can hear their plight through the stories they share. My hope is that as these men leave in a healthier state; that their health would cause a trickle effect to their network and families, thus serving the greater community. I hope that these men return to their families as better fathers, husbands and members of the community, and consequently spur economic and social growth. I also hope that the men who complete our program would refer those within their network to also receive care so that we can continue to facilitate a Culture of Health.