Congratulations to Blanca Vargas, Senior Manager of Operations at PHFE WIC, who recently received the Heluna Health Board of Directors’ Outstanding Achievement Award! This award recognizes individuals, teams, and programs that contribute to a unique, extraordinary, and innovative advancement of Heluna Health’s mission to enhance the health, wellness, and resilience of every community served.
“Outstanding leadership of the PHFE WIC Outreach Department in uniquely challenging times: by pivoting to virtual outreach and her team’s drive to enroll more than 11,000 eligible families in the last year, her tenacity and humanity in reaching out to Afghan refugees and for her legislative outreach efforts.”– Heluna Health Board of Directors
Over the past six months, Blanca and the PHFE WIC Outreach team worked diligently to enroll Afghan refugee families into the WIC program. These refugees faced many issues, including having no permanent address, lack of transportation, and language barriers. Families were placed at extended stay hotels until permanent accommodations became available. The PHFE WIC Outreach team was able to overcome language barriers with the assistance of caseworkers from refugee organizations who were fluent in Pashto and Dari. Suzanne Kalmbach, Client Services Area Manager, hand-delivered WIC cards directly to families. Outreach staff traveled to where families were staying, and with the support of a translator, signed up 65 refugee families for WIC benefits. Many families traveled as long as three hours to shop for groceries and faced an unfamiliar environment. David Barajas, Outreach Specialist at PHFE WIC, facilitated a live shopping experience to assist them in navigating the grocery store and using their benefits to purchase food.
Special thanks to the PHFE WIC Outreach staff, David Barajas, Emily Mac, Sara Jimenez, Nancy Ballardo, Rosalba Marroquin, Bridgette Kinard, Daisy Moreno, and Grace Huang, for their compassion and perseverance in connecting families to vital resources.