SEAHEC: Proyecto Juntos (Together Project)

Aug. 3, 2023

Local Nonprofit receives $1 million to strengthen rural workforce to conduct COVID education and outreach.


Proyecto Juntos Team: First row- Christian Gomez– Paulette Nevarez,Second row- Ycied Talavera, Nora Guzman,Third row- Zuleyka Tabarez, Erin Sol,Fourth row- Brenda Sanchez, Lupita Gonzalez

In July, 2021, the Southeast Arizona Health Education Center, SEAHEC, was awarded a $1,000,000 grant from the US Department of Health & Human Services, Health Resources Services Administration to conduct COVID education and outreach and address vaccine hesitancy through building local community health worker (CHW) workforce in rural south eastern and central Arizona. Recognizing that vaccine access and coverage in urban areas of the nation, and in Arizona as well, are far greater than in rural communities, the efforts of the project focus on: Gila, Graham, Greenlee, Pima, Pinal, and Santa Cruz counties. These counties were selected due to their high social vulnerability per the CDC Social Vulnerability Index.

Strategies of Proyecto Juntos include:

· Outreach to identify unvaccinated individuals;

· Sharing information about how and where to get vaccinated;

· Education to decrease vaccine hesitancy; and

· Helping to plan, promote and staff vaccine events.

SEAHEC is partnering with five organizations including: The Arizona Community Health Worker Association – AzCHOW, a state-wide CHW association; two federally qualified health centers - Canyonlands Healthcare and Mariposa Community Health Center; Catholic Community Services/Casa Alitas - a social services agency and Pinal Hispanic Council, a behavioral health agency. As well, SEAHEC is working in close coordination with the Pima County Health Department and respective health departments in each of the participating counties.

“To be a good community health worker, one has to have passion to provide community education and derive satisfaction from seeing other people grow and overcome their fears,” shares Lupita Gonzalez, a SEAHEC community health worker, who recently received her CHW training from Arizona’s Community Health Worker Association. “First, one must obtain information from realible sources, like the training we received as CHWs, adapt that information to each community and most importantly créate trust to be able to communicate the correct information.”

“It is very satisfying to be able to provide information about existing community resources and to be able to refer community members to the appropriate agency for those services. Being a community Health worker means being the bridge between the community and the services they need”, says Erin Sol, one of SEAHEC’s growing CHW team.

To date, SEAHEC, and partners have hired and trained a total of 10 CHWs who are being deployed to promote covid-19 vaccination among the most vulnerable groups in the six-county region. Please contact us if you want to coordinate efforts, events or want more information. Gail Emrick, Executive Director, at: or Brenda Sanchez, Project Director at

“This project is supported by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) under grant number G32HS42680-01-00, a Local Community Based Workforce to Increase COVID-19 Vaccine Access program. This information or content and conclusions are those of the author and should not be construed as the official position or policy of, nor should any endorsements be inferred by HRSA, HHS or the U.S. Government.”

Ramses Sepulveda, MPA