Immigrant Health Forum lacks audience


Nisha Marino

Cynthia Knowles speaks to empty chairs at the Health Forum.

Nisha Marino, Highlander Editor-in-Chief

Very few people showed up to the San Mateo County Immigrant Health Forum, an event that could have helped numerous other community members.

The Immigrant Health Forum, held by the San Mateo County Behavioral Health and Recovery Services, LIBRE, and the Legal Aid Society of San Mateo County, featured stands with a variety of community resources. These tables offered a wide range of services, from financial management workshops to substance abuse help.

Unfortunately, by the middle of the event, there were only about five attendees. The room, which had a capacity limit well over 100, only contained about 30 people by 3 p.m. The event began around 2 p.m. and lasted until about 4 p.m.

“The turnout is a bit lower than expected, but our goal is to share as much information as possible with the immigrant population,” said Winnie Wu, a co-organizer of the event. “Especially with the recent changes in healthcare and immigrant laws.”

Project Sentinel, a free housing helpline, said they have received fewer calls from undocumented immigrants in the past year due to the political climate. This was a problem many of the groups have encountered.

“Many people don’t want to work with the county,” said Cynthia Knowles, the Healthy Homes outreach coordinator. “So I like to say I am more of a nonprofit.”

Other groups used the event as an advertisement for their services. The World Financial Group (WFG) handed out schedules for their workshops and aimed to discuss what they offer with attendees. Alejandra Magallan, one representative of this group, told a personal story about her financial troubles as a teenager and said that WFG helped her.

“Why pay someone to know something when you can learn it yourself?” said Magallan. “Free workshops are just another way to save money.”

Overall, the event aimed to help improve the lives of immigrants in the San Mateo County. Out of all counties in California, San Mateo County has the fastest growing immigrant population, with over 30 percent of the total population occupied by immigrants.

Summing up the event’s message, Carlos Rocha, a Total Wellness community worker, said, “I believe everyone deserves to live a long and healthy life.”

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