In the state of Wisconsin there were approximately 402,000 Wisconsinites in the past year who were without health insurance for all or part of the year according to the Wisconsin Department of Health Services.
While health insurance coverage in Wisconsin and the nation has steadily increased in the past decade, there is still a huge need for affordable healthcare for lower income families. Since 2000, the per capita spending on healthcare spending has risen from about $5,000 to over $10,000.
This is why organizations such as the Health Care Network in Racine exist. The Health Care Network aims to provide free or subsidized health care to Racine, Wisconsin residents who are lower income. When Blugold senior Demi Cimiaskaite was looking for service-learning opportunities this past summer, she knew that the Health Care Network was where she wanted to utilize her skills.
Cimiaskaite, a marketing analytics major and a Spanish minor, wanted to put her language skills to use and volunteered as a translator to help the Health Care Network provide care to Hispanic members of the Racine community.
During the summer, Cimiaskaite would mostly work in the Dental Clinic as well as helping patients fill out paperwork and schedule appointments. Cimiaskaite had a very eye-opening experience working with the less fortunate and becoming more aware of the families and people who struggle to receive health treatment and dental care.
“Before I went in there, coming from a middle-class background, I did not realize the level of poverty that exists and that’s what service-learning is for, finding out that there are ways for us to help our communities.”
Cimiaskaite also discussed what the opportunity meant to her.
“I got to learn, not only for myself but through these people and their experiences. I didn’t just learn how to speak better Spanish, I learned that some of the people fled Mexico to escape violence and to appreciate what they’ve endured.”
Through her service-learning, Cimiaskaite was able to not only practice her Spanish but she was able to gain a better understanding of the adversity that immigrants and first generation Americans have faced in coming to our country. Cimiaskaite was most surprised with the positivity from the people she worked with who, despite not having material wealth, were very positive and smiled every day.
“It was very inspiring and a life lesson to me. I could have everything in the world but not be as happy as these people who value their family, relationships, and the simpler things in life.”
Thanks to Cimiaskaite’s service-learning project, countless families and individuals were able to get the appropriate care and effective communication about treatments, appointments, and medical information despite the language barrier. In return, Cimiaskaite was able to gain a better appreciation for the sacrifice and struggle that immigrants and first generation Americans make as well as learn to appreciate the simple things.