Club Spotlight: Grupo Nueva Vida

San Antonio, Texas — When Guadalupe Campos and Miguel Padilla arrive at Family Service’s The Neighborhood Place in San Antonio’s Westside, they have homemade food in a crockpot, fruit and snacks. With warm smiles, Campos and Padilla turn a classroom space into a cozy retreat with delicious aromas, a welcoming spread for people to come in and grab a place to sit and talk.

The husband-and-wife team, who work for the City of San Antonio Metropolitan Health District’s Healthy Neighborhoods program, co-facilitate a Community Health Club that can best be described as a mix of an adult learning annex and neighborhood party.

Community Health Clubs are a free peer-to-peer learning format focused on improving health and wellbeing. Health Confianza, a health literacy initiative housed at The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, provides community members with Community Health Club facilitator training, curriculum and ongoing support for clubs throughout Bexar County.

The most successful and effective clubs are tailored to whatever the community needs and are constantly reinventing themselves. Campos and Padilla’s club is a great example of how a club is a living, evolving organism all its own.

Campos started the club about two years ago during the COVID pandemic and Padilla followed as a co-facilitator. Since then, the club has continued to be active, attracting a group of eight to 10 women every week who are predominantly Spanish speaking. Many are retirees or stay-at-home mothers.

Guadalupe Padilla

In addition to common life experiences, these women share a desire to learn new things and keep moving forward, Campos said, adding this environment of learning and transformation is why they named their club Grupo Nueva Vida, which means New Life Group.

Campos and Padilla have facilitated meetings on nutrition, COVID-19 and computer basics, but they’ve also handed over leadership to other members to facilitate sessions on different subjects. The club format stresses the power of sharing collective knowledge and community wisdom.

“We are a group with a lot of talent. I didn’t know Julieta could teach about real estate, Ernestina knew sewing, or that another knows Eastern medicine. That’s the purpose is to bring out our talents,” Padilla said. “That’s the purpose of the group. It’s not static. It’s not only one thing. Through one another, we can keep learning different things and having different discussions.”

Some of the members have been with the club more than a year, while others a few months, but they all say it is a place they want to keep returning to. When talking about the club, members report feeling relaxed, comfortable and a sense of belonging.

While topics covered during the club may not always be directly health focused, such as the sewing meetings, Padilla said, they are fulfilling a need to learn and socialize.

“If they are relaxing in our club, that is good for their health,” he said.

We sat down recently with club members and asked about their experiences. Below is an excerpt of some of that conversation (translated into English).

Community Roundtable with Grupo Nueva Vida

Maria Rodriguez

“I was invited by Lupita and Miguel Angel. We’ve known each other many years, but we ran into each other again recently. I have been coming here about a month and a half. It’s interesting. I’ve been learning a lot and enjoying the festive atmosphere with the other ladies. I look at all their faces, happy like mine. That helps me and I think that helps them too – to be part of this program that has so many benefits.”

Josie Torres

“I’ve liked everything that I’ve learned here. My (volunteer) work wanted me to work three days in a row, but I told them not on Tuesdays because that’s the day I go to my class. I like it because I feel very relaxed here. Thank you to Angel and Guadalupe. They have a lot of patience.”

Sol Castillo

“I’d like to give thanks to Miguel Angel and Guadalupe for giving us the opportunity to learn things that we might only know a little bit about. Here, we really learn the topics, like finances, health, sewing and decorating. The company is great and we really eat well. We cannot really say a bad thing because we are comfortable here and we look forward to Tuesdays. Like Josie said, it’s relaxing here.”

Julieta Hernandez

“A friend told me that there are some meetings (at the club) here and I just started coming. I am a person who if I have something to give or something to learn, I love to do it. It has been such a privilege for me. I’ve become very comfortable here and have taken advantage of the meetings. I’ve learned about email, sewing and other things. I really like sharing and supporting each other. I’ve seen a closeness develop. I’m listening and learning from other people. We are good here. One relaxes and feels comfortable more than anything.”

Ernestina Galvan

“I love supporting and belonging to various groups. I try to learn lots of things. For a long time, my job has been sewing. I’ve been at it for many years. I have a lot of experience and I want to share that before I leave. It’s not a good paying job but it’s always there, and it is needed in all parts and all communities. In this group, I’ve gotten to know Lupita a little more. We were already in various groups together. But I’ve very grateful to them both. It’s my first steps toward doing what I want to do. I’m grateful to them and to all the girls. I’ve met new friends here. We all have a lot of talent to put forward and share.”

Juanita Mendoza

“Now that I’m not working a lot, I love coming here because I’m learning so many things. For example, about finances, social security and different things about health. I really like coming and inviting people to come because the meetings are really very interesting.”


Please share!
Secured By miniOrange