Marlene Castillo

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This oral history interview was conducted by Sophie Therber with interviewee Marlene Castillo via Zoom on August 2, 2021. The main focus is Marlene’s involvement with the Association of Mexicans in North Carolina (AMEXCAN) and her experience helping Latino immigrants mitigate the COVID pandemic and hurricanes. Marlene describes her experiencing managing AMEXCAN’s NC Latino COVID-19 Task Force, connecting a variety of stakeholders such as health departments, community-based organizations, community partners, and state leaders. A key part of Marlene’s role in addressing the COVID pandemic has to go to small businesses such as restaurants, flea markets, and stores to distribute crucial supplies and resources, as well as creating events to bring different providers together to distribute resources such as vaccines and dental screenings. She discusses the many different approaches that she and AMEXCAN have taken in order to provide as much help to immigrant communities as possible. Marlene emphasizes the need for collaboration in the face of adversity and the importance of community networks. The interviewer, Sophie Therber, is a senior at UNC Chapel Hill conducting research for her honor’s thesis in the Human Development and Family Studies department.



Sophie Therber [00:00:02] My name is Sophie Therber, I'm interviewing Marlene Castillo, and today is August 2nd, 2021. The time is 6:03 PM. Marlene, thank you so much for allowing me to interview you for this project.

Marlene Castillo [00:00:13] Thank you so much for having me.

Sophie Therber [00:00:15] So just to start, where are you from and where did you grow up?

Marlene Castillo [00:00:19] So I'm from Nash County, so right down from Pitt County. I'm from Rocky Mount, North Carolina. I've been here my whole life. I was born and raised here in Nashville -- Nashville, North Carolina. People get confused with Nashville, Tennessee, but Nashville, North Carolina and Rocky Mount, North Carolina. And I've been here for 23 years. So, I've been here my whole life. I've went pre-K to high school, and then once I graduated from high school, I went to Greenville to East Carolina University, where I've been the past five years. I've been living in Pitt County for the, since up until last week, actually. I moved back to my hometown this past week. So I'm back in Rocky Mount.

Sophie Therber [00:01:13] Does your family still live in Rocky Mount?

Marlene Castillo [00:01:15] Yes.

Sophie Therber [00:01:17] Awesome, and what made you decide to go to -- what did you study when you were in college? Excuse me.

Marlene Castillo [00:01:22] I did university studies. So it's a combination. When I first came to Greenville, I wanted to be a nurse [laughs] like everyone else, but it's so competitive. So, I had to switch to public health. And then from public health, there [were] a little bit of complications just because of my mom's health and all that. So I wasn't able to complete the requirements and I didn't want to extend my time at school for another year. So I switched to university studies, which is a combination of all the classes I've taken throughout the years.

Sophie Therber [00:02:01] And you said that you started with an AMEXCAN in March of 2020. Can you just tell me a little bit about what that was like to be -- or, excuse me, I believe you said spring 2020. Can you tell me what that was like to be starting there kind of in the midst of everything changing with the pandemic?

Marlene Castillo [00:02:16] So, we were, I was interning with AMEXCAN first for my internship with school. And then, starting -- we were actually offered, near the end of my internship, we were offered a job to work as community health workers. So, we were out going out to the communities, going out to local businesses like stores, like shops and stuff like that, passing out PPE and information about COVID just because there wasn't really much aid for the Latino community. So, we were able to do that during my internship near the end, which was really amazing to experience that and get paid as well. [laughs] So, it was really nice experience. And then we, the internship ended and we had our, like, our break and they called me, and they were like, "Hey, would you like to come on board for the team?" Because I was also managing the NC Latino COVID-19 Task Force during my internship. I was helping the person in charge of the task force organize that and help her with the minutes and all the information that was shared. So, Juvencio, our executive director, asked if I wanted to stay on board and continue to work with the NC Latino COVID-19 Task Force in January. So I was able to join the AMEXCAN team in January of 2020. Nope -- 2021. I'm getting the dates confused because it's just been all a blur. [laughs]

Sophie Therber [00:03:56] That's okay. That totally makes sense. It's been a really long time that we've been in the pandemic and everything, so that definitely makes sense. Can you tell me a little bit more about what the task force does and what your role is with them?

Marlene Castillo [00:04:09] So the task force is a meeting is hosted every Monday morning at 11:00 a.m., and we have different stakeholders join our meetings from health departments, community-based organizations, community partners and state leaders. They join, they give updates about what's going on in each person's county, and they give us updates about how COVID's going in their county, any events they have planned. And just, we think, like, collaboration, ideas about events on how to combat COVID-19. In the beginning, it was more towards people getting tested because there was hesitancy of testing for the Latino community. But as time went on, the vaccine was available. It was about strategies on how to get the Latino community vaccinated. And that's what we're currently on right now, trying to get the community vaccinated, especially with the Delta variant that's going on right now. And we also have guest speakers join the first 30 minutes to speak a little bit about COVID-19 and ways to combat it or programs that are available thanks to COVID-19 that could help the Latino community and the marginalized populations.

Sophie Therber [00:05:36] And what is the process of reaching out to these guest speakers and stakeholders, what do you have to do to get other people involved in these meetings?

Marlene Castillo [00:05:44] So, I have to have to send them emails. [laughs] So that's what I'm working, I'm in charge of. I have to reach out to these, like, important people, honestly, from the federal to the state level to even community partners. I have to send them and email and ask them that we would like to have them join our Task Force meeting and share a little bit about COVID-19, like what's going on and to keep us informed and keep our community partners informed of everything that's happening.

Sophie Therber [00:06:17] So are the state and community partners are they -- is AMEXCAN working both with the state and with these community partners? And you are kind of the liaison between them? Or are you able -- do the state and these community partners ever work together?

Marlene Castillo [00:06:31] I guess you could say we are the liaison. Sorry.

Sophie Therber [00:06:37] That's okay.

Marlene Castillo [00:06:38] So yes and no, because they -- some of those community partners do have contact with the state people. But some of them don't, but they're able to connect with those individuals and ask the questions that they've wanted to ask through these meetings. We've actually had Secretary Cohen join one of our meetings, which is really nice, and we had lots of questions that day, which is expected, but it was it was nice that we were able to get Secretary Cohen to join our meeting and let us know what's going on and keeping us updated and letting us know how we can continue to combat COVID-19.

Marlene Castillo [00:07:22] That's really interesting. How did that day go for you? What did Secretary Cohen talk about?

Marlene Castillo [00:07:27] She talked about the update of COVID-19. At the moment, it's been a while now, so between all the meetings, I can't quite exactly remember everything that happened that day. But she was just giving us updates about COVID-19 and the tools that are available for us to use to combat the virus.

Marlene Castillo [00:07:50] I want to go back to something that you were saying a while ago about when you started, when you were in your internship and a big part of your job was distributing PPE and other supplies. Can you tell me more about that, that kind of direct involvement in distribution?

Marlene Castillo [00:08:04], my experience? Or why we did it? Or...

Sophie Therber [00:08:10] Both would be great.

Marlene Castillo [00:08:11] Okay, so my experience is really eye opening, how there wasn't really much help for the Latino community. Nobody was going out there to pass out information to them. Nobody was saying, "Hey, if you need anything, just contact us and we're here to help you." So it's really great to be a part of the AMEXCAN team. And to see that there is actually someone out there trying to help Latino community. Although we are the Association of Mexicans in North Carolina, we do help all the Latino community. We're not biased against any specific city or anything like that. We help all. So it's really nice to see that AMEXCAN was like that. And, like, when we would go out to these businesses, we were, I felt like we made a change passing out these resources and like facemasks, hand sanitizers, anything we had available. It was really nice to see the little community happy that we were out there helping them when nobody else was really helping them at the moment.

Sophie Therber [00:09:26] And what kind of businesses and places where you going to distribute the supplies?

Marlene Castillo [00:09:30] We would go to Hispanic stores like so like, Mexican stores, Hispanic stores, taco places, so the taquerias, we'd go to flea markets, flea markets, the one known in Smithfield, that one was a really big one, that we were able to pass out a lot of stuff. Just restaurants, like, just all the little small local -- not local, because we went across the state -- local business, Hispanic businesses in North Carolina. The small ones that aren't really...touched by the health departments or the government or anything like that.

Sophie Therber [00:10:20] That's really amazing that you and your coworkers were able to go where, like you said, the health departments and the government just are not going to these places. Can you tell me a little bit more about the response that you got from people when you were distributing these materials?

Marlene Castillo [00:10:33] They are very appreciative. They're really thankful that we were out there giving these resources and information out to them. They tell their friends and their family that we were doing these type of things because we, AMEXCAN became known for their resource fairs. Almas Unidas, so it started back in March, also 2020. AMEXCAN would, during my internship, actually, we'd do resource fairs at least two times a month, if not more. We'd go to different counties and distribute food, so we'd always have a good attendance for those. We became known for our resource fairs, honestly. So, that was really good for us, but really good for the community too, because then they were able to receive testing. We would be out there with food, we'd have the testing mobile unit there, but they weren't required to get testing. It was just there if they'd like it. And it was a resource that was available to them when it probably would...I mean, it would, but they would be hesitant to go to the health department rather than go get, you know, from this, like...we are their own people, I guess you could say. [We] have that trust, we were able to get that trust from the community and they would be able to, they would get tested and all that stuff. And now since we've switched over to the vaccines, we've been able to have vaccine providers come out to our resource fairs as well to get the Latino community vaccinated.

Marlene Castillo [00:12:20] And how do you decide where to hold these resource fairs, like what counties? How do you prioritize that?

Marlene Castillo [00:12:27] So it depends on the grant that we receive in the beginning, I didn't know because it was my internship, so I wasn't aware what counties we had to go to or anything like that. We would just be there to help. But now, as a part of the AMEXCAN team, it's, I've learned that it's a pile of the grant and which counties that we say we are going to go attend. And it's most, it's mostly the counties are in high rates of COVID-19. So we choose those so that we could go out there more and try and combat it. Out right now, we have the Healthier Together grant, where we're going out to four different regions in North Carolina and not just eastern, but across North Carolina to combat COVID-19 and provide the vaccine. But as AMEXCAN, we're providing resource fairs to entice the community to come out and for us to disseminate any concerns or anything like that that they might have.

Sophie Therber [00:13:36] And can you tell me more about how your role has changed? So, you began in spring 2020 and that was kind of a different stage of the pandemic because, as you were saying, there wasn't hardly any information or knowledge about what was happening. And then, in the midst of the pandemic, before the vaccines were available. And now, since vaccines are available, how has your job there evolved over time throughout the pandemic?

Marlene Castillo [00:14:01] It's evolved a lot. So they were so I started as an intern and then I moved on to -- I'm a community health...Actually, can I, I can actually look for my title, because it switched recently. I was the...I know I had to do with....okay, let's see. Well, it's not up here...So, I joined in November 2020.

Sophie Therber [00:14:49] Okay.

Marlene Castillo [00:14:50] Sorry. [laughs]

Sophie Therber [00:14:51] That's okay!

Marlene Castillo [00:14:53] I joined November 2020, managing the Task Force. I was the community. Community health -- no, the community outreach coordinator. That was my first title, and then from there I also launched the NC Farmworkers Resource Network in January of 2020, so that's another initiative that we have here at AMEXCAN. There's so many things because AMEXCAN has our mission and our goals are like cultural, educational, leadership, health and advocacy. So we have different programs always going on. So the NC Farmworkers Resource Network was one that was launched in January of 2020, coming from the Latino COVID-19 Task Force, so [...] we did that for a little bit, and then a couple of months ago we were able to get a grant for disaster relief, so I joined as the director of disaster relief, and we're hoping to relaunch the disaster relief program to help the Latino community in times of a disaster.

Sophie Therber [00:16:04] So was the disaster relief program something that started as a response to covid specifically, or has it been something that's been around because of the high rate of just extreme weather and other disasters that affect eastern North Carolina?

Marlene Castillo [00:16:18] A little bit of both, because AMEXCAN had also previously had a disaster relief program that just had to stop due to funding. But we got funding, a little bit of funding, so we're able to relaunch that program again. But it's also because of COVID-19 as well, and the rates.

Sophie Therber [00:16:38] And are any of -- so if it started a while ago, before COVID, are any of the, I guess, lessons learned or protocols from natural disasters relevant in addressing the pandemic, or is the pandemic just kind of a totally separate thing that has had different and new challenges for you?

Marlene Castillo [00:16:55] Could you repeat it, please? I'm sorry.

Sophie Therber [00:16:57] I'm sorry. Yeah, I was just wondering, like, are any lessons or protocol or other things, resources from when the disaster relief program before COVID, able to apply to the pandemic or has the pandemic just kind of, is such a new situation that it's not able to apply?

Marlene Castillo [00:17:16] Yes. So, I would say yes. So during cases of natural disaster, like the one I can think of specifically is Ocracoke, they got hit really hard with Hurricane Dorian and they, the Latino community in Ocracoke lost their jobs, lost their homes. They lost so much. And there was no resources, really, or there were resources, but they weren't, like, trusting, I guess you could say, maybe because of their immigration status, were not. I don't know personally, but I'm pretty sure that's what one of the cases was, immigration status, that they were concerned that if they went and received help from the state, that they'd get caught and be sent back home. So I know trust was one of the big things. Similar to COVID, trust is a big thing, like the Hispanic community is really cautious about anything that's given by the state just because they don't want to get caught and be sent back to where they were from. And because they have families here, they've established homes here, like, they've established everything here and they don't want to risk going back. So, I would say it's similar to COVID-19 with that, specifically Ocracoke, because AMEXCAN was able to provide financial help when it hit thanks to a grant. And they also were able to provide food and housing for them while their homes got repaired. So it's similar to COVID-19 just because during COVID, I also remember we were able to help financially to the Latino community with rental assistance or home bills like electricity or anything like that. So, yes, it's similar to...disaster work and COVID-19 are similar.

Sophie Therber [00:19:17] It seems like with your job and your positions there, you are simultaneously working with the state, with some government and other stakeholders that are kind of addressing this COVID and natural disasters from a more broad perspective, but then also with community members who, as you said, might have reasons to not necessarily trust the state or other government actors. Can you talk about how you are able to manage, kind of, both of those perspectives at the same time?

Marlene Castillo [00:19:46] Manage both perspectives in which way? I'm sorry.

Sophie Therber [00:19:49] That's okay. I guess just like working both with the state, or like these kind of upper level like government organizations, like with the Task Force especially, but then also when you're on the ground with community members who you said, for good reason, don't always trust the state or trust those government actors. How do you kind of balance working with both of those groups at once?

Marlene Castillo [00:20:11] I guess balance, because our main goal is just trying to help everyone. I see that the government and the state is trying to help the communities that aren't being targeted right now. And I see that the communities that we are targeting are open to us helping them. So, I guess, is that what you mean when...? Okay.

Sophie Therber [00:20:41] Yeah! Yeah, thank you. So, are there any other -- excuse me, sorry -- you were saying that some of the protocols that you have from disaster management have carried over into the COVID pandemic from just ways that you were doing things with resources for people from disasters now being used in the pandemic, and then, kind of on the other side, is there anything that you that you and your organization have started doing in the pandemic that you believe you'll keep doing in the future?

Marlene Castillo [00:21:10] Yes, definitely. We'll definitely continue to reach out to these local communities, restaurants, stores, barbershops, all of that we're going to continue to do, let them know of all the services we have provided. AMEXCAN actually has a "promotores" program. So, it's individuals who are, who want to promote all the resources that are in their, like...So, the promotores are each in different counties, and they are able to share the resources and all the events that we have coming up with their communities, that which helps AMEXCAN reach even more individuals. That's something that I think that is going to continue as well. Our resource fairs, I don't know at the moment. It's just, it just depends on funding and it takes a lot to do these resource fairs. The AMEXCAN team is really working hard to provide these services for the Latino community. We actually just recently had a resource fair last Friday in Wilson and it was pouring cats and dogs. But we were still out there; the rain did not stop us, the thunder did not stop us. Because we wanted to make sure that the individuals who signed up for these resource fairs receive the food that was provided by the food bank and the culturally appropriate food items that we were able to collect as well for them to get it. Thankfully, the vaccine provider was able to stay as well and we were able to vaccinate 15 individuals. So, that was really nice. And we had community health workers also who were, who stuck it out and stayed in the rain as well and shared these the resources that they had for that county. So, I'm thinking we might still continue to do these resource fairs. We just don't know. It just all depends on funding. But we will definitely be going out to businesses and passing out information. I know there is something in the Education Department I don't know a lot about, but they're hoping to launch that this upcoming month. So, AMEXCAN is launching an Education Alliance where they will be providing webinars, like events about how like high schoolers can apply for college because there's that, there's that barrier. There's nothing really out there for the Latino community who, like, the parents for them to know what's going on, how to help their kids go to college if they are documented. And that leaves a gap for the Latino community in the college setting to, you know, to go get an education and stuff like that. And we're also watching the health initiative. So we're also, we also have a North Carolina Latino Health Alliance that has already launched. And those weeks, those meetings are monthly, and we're hoping to just collaborate and continue to educate the Latino community about health education, because that's something we did notice during COVID-19 that many of the community, like Latino communities, didn't know or didn't have much knowledge of because they don't have the funds or they don't -- they're afraid to go into the health department and receive these services that are available to them. So AMEXCAN is honestly, [laughs] they're hitting everything that we can. We're also doing the farm workers, which will continue to stay as well, the NC Latino Farmworkers Resource Network. And that's where I host those meetings as well. It's every other Thursday at 11:00 a.m., where we have guest speakers, as well, speak about the farm workers, the ones who aren't spoken about. That's still something, even before the pandemic, no one really spoke about the farm workers and everything that they're going through and all the struggles that they have to face being farm workers coming from Mexico or different states, the H-2A workers and all that. So, we have guest speakers during our meeting to speak about the programs that are available for these farm workers or resources that are available or projects or data that's been found. And we're trying to find ways to combat anything that, like, for farm workers and help them with anything, any way we can. That's another thing. And the individuals who join those meetings are on the farm, like the agriculture side of agencies that are also trying to help the Latino farmworkers. That's...When I tell you AMEXCAN is doing a lot of things, they're doing a lot of things, [laughs] which is really great to be a part of. And it was really great to see, during my internship, all the hard work that goes into community-based organizations. There's a lot of work that is done in the background that most don't see when we have our events. It's a nice event, but all the hard work that had to go through organizing that event, inviting the community to come out, and for the community to actually come out, it's a lot of work. So I, I really look up to Juvencio and all the work he's done and how far he's gotten AMEXCAN to where it is now.

Sophie Therber [00:27:03] Wow, that's amazing. It sounds like AMEXCAN is taking on a lot of really important issues, kind of all at once, and that's really amazing that you are able to, I mean, do so many things. It sounds like your job has changed a lot from the Farmworkers Resource Network to the distributing PPE, and now with the task force and farm workers meetings. Can you tell me, what was it like to transition from an internship role with AMEXCAN to now the job that you have now since November?

Marlene Castillo [00:27:35] So thankfully, during my internship with AMEXCAN, they put me in my position, they didn't call me an intern. They called me by the position of, I was health coordinator, so I was already part of the team, honestly. That was really great. So, the transition wasn't as difficult as I thought it would be because I was already, like, they already taught me everything I needed to know or needed to do just because I was already doing that during my internship, which is really nice, and it was also really nice that we were able to -- a couple of us, actually, from that specific internship were able to join the team. That was really nice because, I mean, it was during COVID times, so we were all worried after graduating if we were going to get a job anywhere. So it was really good that we were able to join with AMEXCAN. I guess it's because of all the hard work we all did. And they saw that we were passionate about helping the Latino community. So the transition wasn't as difficult as I thought it would be. It was pretty smooth, just because everything I was doing during my internship was the same stuff I did when I started joining the team, when I joined the team. So that was really nice. Not too much stress. [laughs]

Sophie Therber [00:28:54] Well, that's good, that's really good that it was a smooth transition. I want to go back to what you were saying about connecting with the small businesses and other local stores and things like that to be distributing information and materials. So like you said, these are places that are often kind of left behind by state or other government responses. So how do you build and form relationships with these really small places and how do you maintain a close relationship with them?

Marlene Castillo [00:29:26] We keep in contact with them. That's definitely one of the big things. We continue to go back, or we check up, check up on them and see if they have any needs or anything that's going on in their communities that they need help with. And if they do, we go back out there and provide those resources. In Tarboro, currently it's red; COVID cases are high in that county, so one of our previous AMEXCAN promotoras mentioned that on Fridays, lots of the farm workers come out there, and she's noticed that most of them aren't vaccinated, but some are. Some are vaccinated. The state has done a good job at vaccinating the farmworkers when they come in, but some of them aren't vaccinated. So, she let us know that it would be a great opportunity for us to have an event there. So we'll be going out there this August 27th to provide the vaccine. We're going to do, like, a little health fair and also provide additional services. We're hoping to get dental services or dental screening because it's something that the Latino community needs, something that they don't receive. So we're hoping to get that. We have a blood pressure check, blood sugar check, like just the basics. So if someone, something's not okay, we're able to refer them to the health department, and they can get the services, or a community health center to get the services that they need. So that's really nice. So just building the trust and doing things like that, going back out there to the communities that are, that we visited and are in need of something, just going back and keeping that connection with them has definitely helped.

Sophie Therber [00:31:16] So when you're keeping in touch with the small businesses, are you doing so that you can, so you can get of a read on how the communities where they are doing, or are you also keeping in touch? Because I'm sure that a lot of those small businesses have been hit pretty heavily by I mean, just less people coming because of the pandemic. Are you keeping in touch with just the clients of the businesses or the businesses themselves?

Marlene Castillo [00:31:42] I guess, the clients -- Both, actually, both. Because if there is any, we haven't really had a call where a local business has had to shut down because of financial, just because the Latino community, they continue to work. They worked throughout the whole pandemic. They really didn't stop. [...] I guess I could say it was like down a little bit, but it wasn't enough to hit them and have them go and shut their stores down just because the Latino community still had to work and still had to go to these stores to get food, like the centros and stuff like that. But if AMEXCAN finds grants are available for these small businesses, we're sure to share that with the people who, or businesses that reach out and let us know that they're struggling. So we try to help them in any way we can.

Sophie Therber [00:32:46] And you mentioned that you have a health fair coming up, can you tell me more about what goes into the planning and conducting the health fairs? What do you have to do for that?

Marlene Castillo [00:32:56] We have to find a location that's big enough for us to have the vaccine provider, any other community partner who would like to join, we like to invite everyone they want to, if they're from the county to share any resources that they have. So, we have to make sure the location's okay. We have to contact the store or the business or church or school, whatever location we take, we have to contact them and ask them if we could use their location, their premises to provide a vaccine event. We have to contact the food bank because we receive food for the the resource fairs. This time we won't have food, but usually we always have food. We want to keep this one more health-related. So, we're going to be contacting Edgecombe County Health Department or community health centers that provide services like the dental screenings and stuff like that. So we have to contact them, schedule with all the community partners to make sure the date's okay with everyone, they're not booked because everyone's booked at the moment because of the vaccine's going -- I mean, the COVID-19 rates going up. So to make sure everyone's booked and free on the same date, same time. That's another thing. We usually have to schedule these later in the day just because the Latino community is working, and they don't get off til 5:00 or later, so we have these events more towards the evening, so we have to stay after hours. So from like 4:00 to 7:00, and stuff like that, or 3:00 to 7:00, just to make sure that they are able to go get those resources. We have to contact the vaccine provider and make sure that they're available and they can come out and provide the vaccines. We have to make sure that the vaccines that the community wants are provided that day. So we ask the person who -- like the business who, like the promotora we reached out to, we asked her which vaccine or what would they like for them to come out to that event? So we have to ask. They asked the community which vaccine they'd prefer. So we hear back from them. Then we tell the vaccine provider, "Hey, they'd like this. Can you provide this to state?" And then they bring it, and they say "yes" or "no." And then we usually sign people up just so we can get -- we don't collect any information that would be, you know, risky for them. Just their name, where they're from, what origin of Mexico or origin, which country they're from, just to keep a record for ourselves. So in case of anything, we can call them back and let them know that we have another resource fair or something like that or other events. So, we usually do that. Then, we organize everything like the fliers. We have fliers we have to create that we share with these our networks. AMEXCAN is known for sharing on WhatsApp groups. We call them redes. The redes are on WhatsApp, which is where they have different WhatsApp groups, and they add individuals from that county. They share it with them or different projects that Mexico has done, and they're local, share the flier with them, let them know we're coming. If they need anything, we'll be out there. We also post on our Facebook and our Instagram, our Twitter, our LinkedIn. We share everywhere. And then we share it with our Task Force members as well, in case they want to share with their communities or their networks as well for them to invite everyone to come out that day and take advantage of the of we have planned. That's a little bit about it, but, yes, that's what we're doing for the health fair. So we're, right now, communicating with the Carolina Family Health Center to see if they have a mobile unit that can provide dental screening for that day, that date. And then we have Old North State Medical Society coming from Greensboro to provide the vaccine and the blood pressure check, blood sugar, and not the basics.

Sophie Therber [00:37:34] Wow, I'm amazed by just how many moving parts there are and figuring out this event and just the attention to detail, and one thing that hadn't really occurred to me is just the timing of it. So making sure that not only the providers and the health clinic people are available at the same time, but that that time is actually even convenient for the populations that you're serving. So that's really interesting.

Marlene Castillo [00:37:57] [laughs] That's something that we were able to tell the state. Like, it's great that they were having these testing events and vaccine events and all these things during the day. But if they're trying to hit the Latino population, they're working. So they're not going to be available to go get tested or go get the vaccine during the day because they don't have a break and their only time available is after work. So, that was really nice that they were able to realize that the Latino community isn't available during the day. And they were also, everyone was able to switch their times and do events in the evening or provide, like, the health departments were able to provide vaccines and testing on the weekend so that these populations were able to receive it.

Sophie Therber [00:38:49] Do you feel that the state has been receptive to your feedback such as that about the timing or about other things in general?

Marlene Castillo [00:38:59] What do you mean by receptive? Sorry.

Sophie Therber [00:39:00] Sorry, it's okay. I'm just wondering, like when you have recommendations for the state about how to better reach Latino populations in North Carolina., do you feel that they are listening to you and taking account about what you and other members of your organization are recommending to them?

Marlene Castillo [00:39:16] Definitely, yes. I feel like we have been able to let them know how the Latino population feels and what accommodations they need to feel safe and trusting of them. Yes.

Sophie Therber [00:39:38] That's really good to hear. If you, so, if you and the rest of your organization, in an ideal world, if you had more supports, not necessarily just from the state, but just kind of in general, what kind of supports would you want to have to be able to address the issues that you faced throughout the pandemic?

Marlene Castillo [00:39:59] Support we'd like to have...Obviously, financially, [laughs] just to be able to compensate everyone for all the work that they have to go through and organize and stuff like that. More volunteers, we have a volunteer list of about 50, but the more the better. Just because the Latino community isn't small, we make up a big portion of North Carolina, especially in the agriculture industry. So volunteers, probably, to provide to be out there with us for the events we have so it's not just staff going out to these events because we also have other things we have to organize and plan for other events. But I think that would be a just because the state's been good with us as well, to help us help the Latino community, yeah.

Sophie Therber [00:41:08] Great, well, is there anything else that you would like to add before I stop recording?

Marlene Castillo [00:41:13] Thank you for having me. These questions...

Sophie Therber [00:41:15] Of course, yeah. Thank you so much. Awesome. Well, thank you again. I'm going to go ahead and stop the recording really quickly.