Maritza Gomez: Faith-Based Organizations Promote Healthy Lifestyles Among Community Members

Faith-based organizations teach members how to live a healthy lifestyle in ways that integrate with their faith, explained Maritza Gomez, program assistant for community engagement at the Camden Coalition of Healthcare Providers.

As a community health worker with the Camden Coalition of Healthcare Providers, how do you work with patients?
So my job is working in the community, so I have different roles. So I work one with the faith-based organizations, working with healthy eating physical activity. I also am working with the National Consumers for the National Center which I’m engaging with people with different social, medical, complex needs and attending them, helping them get to the conference.

What role do faith-based organizations play in improving the health of members in the community?
Working with the churches, it’s like a family. So they’re a family. Even if you don’t have a relative in a church, your church, your congregation, your faith leaders are your family. So working with them in a community and teaching them about health and healthy eating, they work together, they encourage each other. And that’s very important and building that relationship in their own faith-based organization.

How do you make connections with faith-based organizations to involve them in healthcare?
So, what we do is we have a 6-week curriculum that we teach which is called Faithful Families Eating Smart and Moving More where we teach their church or 3 members of their church a curriculum on all 3 components, which is healthy eating, physical activity and a cooking demonstration. And with that curriculum they go out and teach their members how to eat healthy or how to coupon, what are the results of not eating well or even moving, walking, or doing any type of exercise, and at the same time they integrate it with their faith. So a lot of churches do Bible verses like how your body’s a temple and they just connect all components into one program.
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