Our Connection Desk Offers Insurance Enrollment and Other Help by Phone

Hands hold mobile phone

In response to the COVID-19 emergency, Washington state opened up a special enrollment period for health insurance through May 8. Our Connection Desk is offering over-the-phone help enrolling in health insurance. We’re also connecting community members with other vital resources.

If you’d like help, please send a text message or leave a voicemail at (206) 707-6626. In your message, include:

  • your name,
  • your number,
  • what you need help with,
  • what language you need if you don’t speak English.

We will call you back as soon as possible.

Please note that we are not currently offering in-person services. We will update our Facebook page and website when in-person services resume.

Links to information about COVID-19

Board Member Wessen Kifetew Brings Passion for Global Health and Community Service

Wessen Kifetew, who joined Global to Local’s board of directors in the fall, has more than 15 years of experience in global health and community service. 

“Maternal and child health, women’s health, and equity in access to health care are my passions,” Wessen said. “These are big issues in global health, and also here in the Seattle area.” 

Originally from Ethiopia, Wessen earned a Master’s degree in Global Health from the University of Emory, Atlanta, and a Graduate Certificate in Maternal and Child Health (MCH) Leadership from University of North Carolina, Gillings School of Public Health. Her academic research focused on the impact of HIV/AIDS stigma on prevention of mother-to-child transmission, and she went on to work in global health operations management with U.S. government and international organizations. 

When Wessen moved to the Northwest more than a decade ago, she set out to understand health disparities and social justice as influential factors on policy, decision making, and on health outcomes of vulnerable populations and communities in greater Seattle.  

“I started volunteering, doing a lot of pro bono consulting work, and actively trying to get a good handle on what equity means, and why do we have these persisting health issues within communities,” Wessen said. In addition to providing pro bono consulting services to a variety of community-based organizations, Wessen is a member of the Washington State Coalition African Leaders (WASCAL), and also serves on the board of African American Reach & Teach Health, an organization responding to HIV/AIDS and other major health issues affecting African Americans and people of African descent. 

Wessen sees joining Global to Local’s board as an opportunity to support implementation of a strategy that has always interested her—adapting global health learnings to improve health in U.S. communities. More importantly, Wessen sees her role as a board member to bring the voices of the broader global community to the table. 

“Working in global health, I’ve always thought, Why can’t we bring the experiences and the best practices to address some of the local health issues?” Wessen said. “There are opportunities for the public health community here to adapt best practices to address inequities in health and healthcare access, education, and in other sectors based on race and place. And I think Global to Local is in a position to play a big role in addressing these issues across diverse communities.” 

Wessen looks forward to supporting Global to Local’s growth beyond SeaTac and Tukwila.  

“I think we can help to address inequities and disparities in not just greater Seattle, but also in the broader international communities, similar communities who could benefit from the practices that we bring in,” she said. 

Tukwila Resident Charis Hnin Brings Community Planning Experience to Global to Local’s Board of Directors

Charis Hnin quote

Global to Local welcomed Charis Hnin to our board of directors this fall. A Tukwila resident since 2013, Charis brings a community perspective, and a background in activism and community planning.  

For years, Charis has volunteered as a convener, facilitating conversations between policymakers and community members who speak limited English—often in her living room.  

“I encourage people in the community to be involved in local politics. I focus on local politics because a lot of our day-to-day life is affected by it,” Charis said. 

Charis’s passion for boosting civic engagement is driven in part by her experience living under an oppressive regime. 

“Coming from Burma, which had the longest military dictatorship, it’s important to me to exercise the democratic process,” she said. 

Charis’s professional career has been equally focused on building powerful communities. She has held front line and leadership positions in refugee resettlement, community development, housing, consumer protection, human services, educational leadership, and workforce education. In her current community planning work as the principal and chief strategist at Talitha Consults, Charis pays close attention to the interconnections between people, place, and power. She will bring the same lens to her board position at Global to Local. 

“My vision is that Global to Local will continue to be people-centered, with an inclusive definition of who the ‘people’ are, and also participate in the placemaking of our community, because these buildings will outlive us all and continue to shape many generations to come,” she said.  

G2L and Connection Desk Holiday Schedule

Global to Local’s office and the Connection Desk will close later this month as our staff celebrates winter holidays.

Our office will close from Wednesday, Dec. 25 through Wednesday, Jan. 1. We will re-open on Thursday, Jan. 2.

Our Connection Desk at HealthPoint SeaTac will be open with limited hours from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Monday, Dec. 23. It will be closed from Tuesday, Dec. 24 through Friday, Jan. 3, and resume normal hours on Monday, Jan. 6.

We wish you a happy and healthy winter holiday season!

Community Health Workers Partner With Clinic to Address Patients’ Needs

CHW Abdi Hussein helps bridge the gap between patients and clinical care

Global to Local (G2L) is partnering with the SeaTac HealthPoint clinic to address the social health and clinical needs of East African and Spanish-speaking patients. G2L aims to strengthen and demonstrate the effectiveness of using Community Health Workers, in collaboration with a health provider, as a means of addressing the social determinants of health. With generous support from Pacific Hospital Preservation & Development Authority, we employ two CHWs who are supporting patients from the Latina and Somali communities.

Our CHWs are able to identify social and linguistic barriers that prevent patients from getting the necessary care they need. We assist with services such as appointments, insurance and referral coordination, addressing gaps to health and advocating on behalf of patients. The CHWs have the same lived experiences of the patients we serve, and they are able to identify and create rapport with patients.

At the end of the project, we hope to share our model as an effective intervention in addressing health disparities of under-resourced communities.

BRIDGES: Bringing Global Health Expertise to Rural Washington

Over the past decade, Global to Local has successfully applied lessons from global health to serve residents of South King County. While we’re committed to that work for the long term, we’re also excited to share what we’ve learned with others throughout Washington state and beyond!

Last December, we kicked off a seven-month effort to identify lessons from global health that might assist in overcoming barriers to health in rural Washington communities. Under a contract with the Washington Department of Health, we collaborated with groups in five counties in Central, Northeast, and Southeast Washington to explore how global learning might enhance ongoing community health improvement work.

A key principle of G2L’s model is that communities are experts in the barriers to health that they face, so we started by studying health data collected by the communities, and by listening to community residents. These conversations were facilitated by the Kittitas Community Health Network in Kittitas County, the Healthy Ferry County Coalition in Northeast Washington, and the Southeast Washington Health Partnership in Garfield, Whitman, and Asotin counties.

Washington State map highlights communities that partnered with Global to Local on the BRIDGES project
Image adapted from the Washington State Department of Health’s website.

After identifying key health concerns, we scanned the global health literature for approaches to reduce health disparities in rural Washington. We used a strategic framework from a landscape assessment and literature review of global health interventions that we commissioned from PATH, a Seattle-based global health innovation organization, in 2017. We also partnered with the Strategic Analysis, Research & Training (START) Center, a research and consulting center housed in the University of Washington Department of Global Health, to help search for global health solutions.

Issues concerning access to care and financial insecurity were among the top health barriers identified across all Washington state rural communities. Other common health barriers included a lack of behavioral health services despite an increasing demand, and issues among youth such as bullying, inadequate access to childcare, and obesity.

Robin Read, Executive Director of Kittitas County Health Network, leads a focus group among
community partners to listen to local health barriers.

We shared 11 global health strategies that might be of interest to rural communities. Three of these strategies emerged as the most potentially useful and transferable approaches to mitigate the impact of barriers to health identified in each community: deployment of community health workers; use of mobile health technology; and task shifting or task sharing of services typically provided by physicians, nurses, psychologists, and other highly trained health care professionals.

We shared both general ideas and examples of specific projects with each community partner, and received overwhelmingly positive feedback regarding the utility of the global health strategies.    

“I think your recommendations around Community Health Workers, task sharing, and mobile apps are spot on for our communities.”

Robin Read, Executive Director of Kittitas County Health Network

The Washington Department of Health will provide a report describing the BRIDGES work to the Washington State Legislature, which funded the effort.

Learn more

To learn more about BRIDGES, contact Alyssa Reed at alyssa@globaltolocal.org.

Communities of Opportunity: Partners Advancing Equity in SeaTac and Tukwila

16 staff members representing 6 community-based organizations smile at the camera

Since 2015, Global to Local has played a key role in facilitating Communities of Opportunity’s (COO) initiative to create greater racial, health, and economic equity in SeaTac and Tukwila. This initiative is a collaborative effort by King County, Seattle Foundation, and partners dedicated to advancing community-based priorities and shaping policies to promote racial equity.  

COO has provided funding to help the SeaTac and Tukwila communities implement projects that contribute to better health, safe and affordable housing, economic opportunity, and stronger community connections. As the local lead agency for SeaTac and Tukwila, Global to Local: convenes community-based organizations to determine local priorities and strategies; manages contracts with partner organizations that implement projects to advance community priorities; and coordinates internal and external communications for the local initiative. 

In past years, the COO initiative has supported Food Innovation Network’s food system revitalization work, Congolese Integration Network’s efforts to improve social connections and housing stability in the Congolese community, and our Community Health Workers’ physical health programs at affordable housing sites. 

Local partners

This year, six organizations are partnering to drive change in SeaTac and Tukwila with COO support: 

Current work

Building on the success of our past efforts, we are collectively working to: 

  • support workforce development, career pathways, and business incubation for immigrants and refugees; 
  • develop leadership workshops to empower community members to address local social, economic, and political issues; 
  • help community members register to vote and learn about the 2020 national census; and 
  • engage in problem-solving to prevent and mitigate the impacts of displacement of residents and local businesses. 

Learn more 

Tukwila Village Food Hall Will Open in 2020 With State and Community Support

Rendering of colorful food retail stalls

Construction is underway at our Food Innovation Network’s new commercial kitchen and community hub! Tukwila Village Food Hall will be home to FIN’s Food Business Incubator, which has already helped launch 12 businesses headed by low-income South King County residents, primarily immigrants and refugees.  

Food businesses have traditionally been a way for many striving immigrants and low-income families to make a living. However, skyrocketing real estate and rental rates are making it difficult for these entrepreneurs to access commercial kitchen and restaurant spaces in South King County. Tukwila Village Food Hall will provide the space and support to help entrepreneurs launch and scale to successful local businesses. The Food Hall will also provide a community hub—a space where people can gather to learn about and celebrate the community’s rich food traditions. 

The facility

The 2,900-square-foot facility will include a commercial kitchen with four cook stations, five food retail stalls (including one stall designated for pop-ups and cooking demos), and a community dining area. The space will accommodate 20 food businesses, including eight that will rent stalls in the public Food Hall. Other businesses will use the kitchen for off-site sales, such as catering and farmers markets. 

The Food Hall will be in Tukwila Village, a mixed development project with 400 new affordable and market-rate apartments. Construction began in late 2018, and the Food Hall will be ready for operations next spring. 

Two side-by-side images show FIN's Food Hall building under construction now, and a rendering of how the building will look when completed in 2020.
Our new facility will be located on Tukwila International Boulevard just north of Tukwila Library. The building is adjacent to the plaza where FIN already operates the Tukwila Village Farmers Market.

State and community support  

Building out the facility and installing kitchen equipment will cost $850,000. Thanks to our local funding partners and the State of Washington, we’ve already raised more than half of this amount!  

Communities of Opportunity and the Port of Seattle have provided support in the pilot testing, pre-construction needs, and program expansion.  

The State of Washington has appropriated $400,000 in its capital budget to support the project; the budget request was sponsored by Sen. Bob Hasegawa, and supported by dozens of local businesses, nonprofit organizations, and community leaders. 

We continue to seek sponsors, and have launched a capital campaign to help raise the remaining funds. You can help open Tukwila Village Food Hall by contributing online and joining our crowdfunding campaign!  

FIN entrepreneurs and some of their children smile at the camera.
Food Business Incubator participants use income their businesses generate to support their families’ health and wellbeing.

Learn more 

Burien Leader Martha Molina Helps Her Community Get Civically Engaged

Global to Local’s leadership and community mobilization initiatives strive to improve health by building community power. As part of this effort, our Community Connectors programs recruit and support individuals who serve as liaisons between their diverse communities and the cities of Tukwila and Burien.

Earlier this year, our website featured Tukwila Connector Rinny Tun. Now we are excited to spotlight Burien Connector Martha Molina. Read on for our Q&A with this community leader!

How did you learn about the Community Connectors program? Why did you decide to join?
My friend told me about it. I thought it was a great opportunity for me to learn more about local government and how to connect the community with the city.

What are some of the most urgent or greatest needs you see in your community?
The biggest needs I see are: getting more families involved in community events and meetings; regular child care for families who want to attend meetings but can’t because of children; and more languages offered for interpretation in meetings/events.  

What activities have you done as a Connector?
I took a City 101 training, helped review and give out surveys, and learned about city resources and who to call for help. I attended a City of Burien budget meeting, and have done some outreach work by passing out fliers and by reaching out to friends and family through social media to share events and information. I also attended a King County Council meeting in Seattle, which I never had done, so that was exciting and different.

What are some of the most important things you’ve learned as a Connector?
The biggest thing I have learned is how powerful word of mouth can be. The Latinx community, especially older folks who don’t use social media as regularly, rely heavily on word of mouth from their close friends and family. I can’t begin to say how many times I’ve been told that someone learned of an event through a mom from school or through a next-door neighbor. Another important thing I have learned is that anyone has the power to speak up, and everyone’s voice truly matters, no matter how small or unimportant you feel.

What’s something you’ve accomplished as a Connector that you feel proud of?
I know there is still a lot for me to learn, but I am proud that I have introduced the idea of attending events and learning about city politics to some of my friends and family, and hope I have made them consider attending more often — because if I can, they can, too.

What is your hope for your community?
I hope for a community that welcomes diversity and accepts differences. A community in which neighbors know each other and reach out to each other. They participate in events that impact them, and are able to understand the content in their language if it’s not English. An inclusive community that works together and listens to the needs of one another. Anyone feels safe to be a leader and has the support to get there.

Is there anything else you’d like to share?
I’m so grateful for the support I have been given during my participation in the program. I know I can always reach out for questions or any other support, and don’t feel ashamed for asking too many questions. I know I am appreciated, and that feels so great.

Learn more about our Community Connectors programs

Contact G2L Deputy Director A.J. McClure: aj@globaltolocal.org or (206) 379-6051.

Tukwila Connector and Youth Leader Rinny Tun Has Big Goals

When Foster High School senior Rinny Tun learned about the Tukwila Community Connectors program, he jumped at the chance to join. 

Connectors serve as liaisons between city staff and Tukwila’s diverse communities, helping the city build toward more equitable community engagement. 

“Learning about the government is interesting,” Rinny said. “I thought it was important to get myself to do that, and then to help other kids like me connect with civic engagement.” 

Having served as a Connector for a year and a half, Rinny has accomplished his goal of serving as a bridge between the city and his community. 

“Meeting with city officials was very interesting because it gave me that network, and the resources to utilize in my own community,” he said. “Connecting with human services staff was especially good, because when I know community members are going through something, I can connect them with the right person.” 

Another benefit of the program has been building his own advocacy and leadership abilities. Niesha Brooks, Global to Local’s leadership and engagement manager, mentors the Connectors, and also has helped Rinny find additional opportunities to grow his skills and network. She encouraged him to join a three-day leadership development training with the Healthy King County Coalition that he found particularly impactful.  

“That’s how you connect with people. For leadership, that’s important. I used to be a little shy kid. Now I’m almost outspoken. I’m on my way,” he said with a laugh. 

A future in community service 

With high school graduation around the corner, Rinny has his future on his mind.  

“I want to go to college. And I want to hopefully be able to take on more tasks from the community.” 

Rinny is considering a career in medicine, with aspirations to “open a private clinic and help low-income families.” Or, inspired by his volunteer work with FIGHT – Formerly Incarcerated Group Healing Together, he might advocate full-time for criminal justice system reform. 

Whatever path he chooses, Rinny is committed to using his skills and energy to lift up community members who have been underrepresented — particularly Southeast Asians, refugees, youth, and people with low incomes. 

“I want to do something transformative. Helping people grow — go from low-income to middle class, get resources they need, overcome barriers, like language barriers — that’s a big thing,” he said. 

Learn more about our Community Connectors programs 

Contact G2L Deputy Director A.J. McClure: aj@globaltolocal.org or (206) 379-6051.