Learning that there are others out there with the same experience
Nilda Santana of Orlando, FL, understands what it’s like to feel frustrated. When Santana moved to Florida in 2006, she immediately applied to enroll her three children in Kid Care, Florida’s SCHIP program.
“There was nobody to help me navigate the system,” recalled Santana. “I had to do it all by myself. It was very frustrating.”
Santana got involved in PICO affiliate Federation of Congregations United to Serve (FOCUS) in Orlando because, as she says it, “I had been through the Kid Care process, and I knew what it was like to be the one falling through the loopholes.”
“They would lose my paperwork. You would send them something and they wouldn’t get it…I moved to Florida in November and my kids health care didn’t get approved until March,” testified Santana.
“It was either put food on the table or provide health insurance for my kids.”
Santana admits that, before getting involved in FOCUS, she wasn’t used to being a spokesperson. But her experience applying for Kid Care compelled her to speak out.
“Usually, I’m the person who likes to do the behind the scenes work…so speaking out was a learning experience,” said Santana. “But I learned that I need to speak up because there’s other people out there who are also experiencing what I’m experiencing.”
“I mean, here I am, I’m computer literate, I speak English, and I still have all these problems. What about those who don’t speak English?”
Through the hard work of Santana and other PICO leaders, PICO Florida won an additional $1.1 million for the Kid Care program, as well as helped streamline the application process so that others don’t have to experience what Santana did.
“Personally, being involved in FOCUS has given me the opportunity to express myself as to what I’ve been through in order to help others who are going through the same thing.”
“If you don’t fight for your rights,” asked Santana, “who’s going to do it?”
For more information on community organizing in Orlando, visit the FOCUS site.