My name is Tom, and I am an AmeriCorps member serving with WithinReach in Seattle. I help connect clients to resources such as Washington Apple Health (which is Washington State’s expanded Medicaid program for low-income people) and food resources (Basic Food). Many of the clients that I assist are immigrants. Immigrants also are almost 3 times as likely as citizens to lack health insurance (8% of citizens are uninsured vs 23% of lawfully present immigrants).
When I was on outreach at the Renton Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) office, I had a client who had emigrated from Romania come in who was interested in signing up for Washington Apple Health. Unfortunately, I was not able to sign them up when they came in because the website we use to help clients apply for Washington Apple Health was down (having technical issues). So I provided information about the Contact Center that WithinReach runs where clients can enrolling Washington Apple Health over the phone, however because of the client’s limited English proficiency the client asked when we would be back at the Renton CSO. I didn’t want to make the client wait 2 more weeks and I realized that we were going on outreach in White Center DSHS office in a couple of days so we agreed to meet there. A couple of days later I met with the same client at White Center and I was able to sign them up for Washington Apple Health. They called me a couple of hours after and asked if I could help them find a doctor who spoke Romanian, which after some searching I was able to do. This client was one of dozens of clients that I have been able to connect with the resources that they need.

My time in AmeriCorps has made me realize the importance of being there in person to help clients, because there are many people who will always prefer to talk to someone in person. I am glad I have had the opportunity to help so many clients and let them know about all the resources that they may be eligible for and that I have been able to serve with an organization that connects so many people in Washington to health and food resources. I have learned so much serving as an AmeriCorps and am glad I have had this opportunity to serve the community.