MINNEAPOLIS — Children’s Minnesota is renowned for care, and that’s not just physical, either.
As the name suggests, the program Community Connect links families to essential resources.
“We are helping mostly families of color, and we just help them with necessities like food, clothing, education, child care,” explained Estibaliz Quintero, one of Community Connect’s navigators.
“My connection to the program, it was just basically luck. Pure and absolutely luck. I feel absolutely blessed every day by doing what I do.”
Quintero gets parents in touch with organizations and services that deal with housing, legal assistance, early childhood education, and even employment. Since Community Connect started in 2017, navigators like Quintero have helped more than 8,000 families.
Her journey to the program wasn’t straightforward.
After immigrating from Mexico in 2009, Quintero established an entertainment career. She did everything from singing and dancing to hosting radio programs for the Latin community. “That was the most important part of my journey where I see the disparities of my community and many other minorities.”
That led Quintero to Community Connect. “I just try to bring that charm that definitely I learned in this stage. To make them feel more comfortable and that I’m not, you know, here to talk about sickness, but talk about what we can do to improve everyday life,” she said.
“These families are my number one motivation, and probably my reward is to have them say thank you. Just a simple thank you. Every time I get that, it’s just sometimes tears come to my eyes, and it’s just like yep, that is why I’m here.”
The top needs addressed by Community Connect last year were food, household goods, child care, and education.
If you’d like to become a navigator, Children’s Minnesota is hiring, and they’re also looking for volunteers.
If you'd like to donate to the program directly, you can find information about how to do there here.
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