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Today’s Boston Globe (possibly the last Boston Globe?! let’s hope not…) reports that per a new study from the Center for Immigration Studies, immigrants living in Massachusetts are being hit harder by the economic crisis than their U.S.-born counterparts.

Among the sobering stats:

  • The number of unemployed immigrant workers in MA rose by 105 percent between the third quarter of 2007 (20,000) and the first quarter of 2009 (41,000). (By comparison, the number of unemployed U.S.-born workers rose by 85 percent, from 126,000 to 234,000.)
  • The percentage of employed immigrant workers in MA fell by 15 percent in the same time frame. (That percentage only fell 3.1 percent for U.S.-born workers.) Nationally, that percentage fell by 9 percent.
  • Immigrant workers accounted for more than half of the 172,000 jobs lost in Massachusetts since late 2007, though they were only 17 percent of the state’s workforce.

Spurred into action by reports like this, Schweitzer Fellows in Massachusetts — and across the entire U.S. — are working directly with immigrant populations to address work- and health-related issues:

  • 2008-2009 Boston Fellows Matthew Bartek and Abraham Jaffe, of the University of Massachusetts Medical School, developed the Akwaaba Health initiative, a community-based effort to address the unmet health needs of Worcester’s African-immigrant population. Collaborating with community members, medical school faculty and students, Worcester health centers, and the Akwaaba Free Health Clinic (which delivers culturally-competent care to patients who lack access), Bartek and Jaffee trained community members to serve as leaders in improving the health of the African-immigrant population.
  • 2008-2009 Boston Fellow Esohe Ohuoba, of Boston University’s Schools of Medicine and Public Health, collaborated with the Refugee and Immigrant Health Program in Jamaica Plain to develop a women’s health curriculum that is culturally sensitive to new arrivals from Somalia. The curriculum empowers immigrant women to understand and advocate for their own health, particularly in the areas of domestic violence, family planning, and sexually transmitted infections.
  • 2009-2010 Boston Fellow Sybill Hyppolite, of the Harvard School of Public Health, will work with the Institute for Community Health to help a group of bilingual, immigrant parents create a community map of behavioral health resources for their children. She’ll also develop and implement an outreach plan impacting children’s behavioral health in Cambridge and Somerville.
  • 2008-2009 New Orleans Fellow David Canales, of Tulane University Law School, offered bilingual legal counsel (on issues such as wage claims, divorce, foreclosures and bankruptcy) to the immigrant worker community that arrived in New Orleans post-Katrina.
  • 2009-2010 Bay Area Fellow Shannon Wirth, of Samuel Merritt University’s School of Nursing, will be developing a health and wellness program for monolingual Spanish speaking immigrants in recovery from drug and alcohol abuse at Mission Council on Alcohol Abuse for the Spanish Speaking in San Francisco.
  • 2009-2010 Bay Area Fellow Pamela Eiselman, of Holy Names University’s School of Nursing, is developing a community skin cancer screening project for uninsured Latino day laborers in Alameda County. Screenings will occur as a result of a new collaborative effort between a local hospital health ministry program, a cancer education and prevention services center, and a recently opened medical clinic serving the uninsured in Oakland.
  • 2009-2010 Chicago Fellow Elizabeth Ralyea, of Saint Xavier University’s School of Nursing, will partner with the Children’s Place Association to provide HIV-positive African immigrants and refugees with a culturally sensitive health education program.
  • 2009-2010 Greater Philadelphia Fellows Jennifer Abraczinskas and Tanya Keenan, students at the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Medicine, will implement a community-based education initiative for South Philadelphia’s Mexican immigrants, focusing on diabetes and cardiovascular disease prevention.

That’s just a taste of the ways in which Schweitzer Fellows are serving and empowering immigrant populations — for more information, visit www.schweitzerfellowship.org and browse all of our Fellows’ projects.

(And keep your fingers crossed that the Globe is still around tomorrow to report on important issues like this.)

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