In our last piece, we found that there were organizations that help bridge the gap between public and private sectors in the community.

By Sylvia Rodriguez,


One of most impactful organizations is Healthbridge4u. It has been the brainchild of a woman who had heart disease and thru her volunteerism worked with the American Heart Association for over 15 years. One of the outstanding things she has done in her tenure was initiating Vestido Rojo.

Vestido Rojo is a community engagement event was created to assist the Hispanic community and how they deal with heart disease. The number one killer of women. In the Hispanic community, women push themselves until they cannot go anymore, rarely going to the doctor until it is a last resort sadly sometimes resulting end in death.

According to: a website run by American Heart Association,

·      Hispanic women are likely to develop heart disease 10 years earlier than non-Hispanics.

·      Only 1 in 3 Hispanic women are aware that heart disease is their No. 1 killer.

The stats are dire in underfunded populations, the 76106 or 76164 are the most unfunded and least utilized zip codes in Fort Worth. For this reason, there are organizations that serve only this community, in the Hispanic community there is a need for a sense of belonging. Sadly, with that there are women that die every have could have been prevented.

Mercedes Cruz, the founder of Vestido Rojo, a heart disease survivor with five surgeries to date created the organization as she seen there was a need. She quickly realized upon promotion of the event that were people in the community that would be hard to reach. The purpose of the event is so that the leaders in the community receive training then in turn give their resources to the others that would not go to the doctor. In addition to this endeavor, Healthbridge4u has initiated the process of further training these Madrinas that act service ambassadors to help close the4 ever growing gap. These Madrinas are then upon placed in a training class where they undergo a 160-hour class that is multifaceted and fulfills all the requirements that The State of Texas has, this requirement allows the new Community Health Worker to work in public and private sector further helping the families in an already struggle area of Tarrant County. Community Health Workers help in hospitals, health departments, clinics, and other offices where more outreach is needed.

The State of Texas is now doing fully online classes to complete the program, extra support that is given to this already far stretched field is very much needed. The extra income to these families is of course life changing. Furthermore, being a thriving member of the community will help break generational curses that plaque underserved families financially. Some graduates have gone on to further into the medical field.

Throughout the year Mercedes Cruz, the founder of Healthbridge4u can be found at various community service events and does so much for the community. There is a group of dedicated volunteers who can be found right next to her at these events. One of these volunteers is Norma Hernandez, she has received her certification for Community Health Worker helps at all events networking, checking eyesight, weight, or countless other duties. In tow with her is her daughter Bella who also helps at these events, a mini networker, if you will.

Community engagement is a family affair, and at Healthbridge4u that is the forefront of the service they provide for the families.

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