Why WithinReach? Why Now?
Written by Aliyah Hina Quraishi, Board member at WithinReach
When the opportunity to serve as a WithinReach Board member presented itself I asked these same questions, why WithinReach? Why now? I was humbled to be considered among so many amazing and accomplished individuals.
This was not the first time I have been asked to join a Board. In fact, I had already founded a nonprofit to answer one question for myself – How can I make more of a difference?
“Making a difference” is a relative concept and means different things to different people. That’s what differentiates us from one another – the unique lens we bring to everything we do in life. But with ‘making a difference’, there is a common thread no matter what lens you use – empathy.
For me, empathy is about caring, service, and compassion for others. It is about caring enough to do something. To take action. To be a voice.
As a health care industry leader, I understand how challenging it can be for families to navigate our complex health and social service systems. I also know the motivation, dedication and innovative thinking required to change these systems of support across our state.
This is where WithinReach comes in. For over 30 years, WithinReach has turned empathy into action. And, it was the strategic nature of WithinReach’s action that drew me to the Board.
There is a spirit of innovation in all WithinReach does. For instance, WithinReach embraces technology and uses it to better their programs and services in order to increase access to resources for vulnerable members of the community. WithinReach’s staff are certified navigators in the State, and coupled with their custom resource database, can enroll individuals and families in affordable health insurance and supplemental food programs, and connect them to other community-based resources.
Whether it’s making sure kids have a healthy breakfast and can start the school day ready to learn, or providing parents with the tools they need to ensure their kids are meeting important, early developmental milestones, Withinreach is focused on helping families connect to all the resources they need to be healthy and safe.
Washington State just concluded its open enrollment period for health insurance, and whether you are enrolling through your employer, as an individual or through Federal and State programs – health care coverage is complicated and confusing. WithinReach makes it easier, by helping people navigate the enrollment process with ease. WithinReach helped 3,110 of people get covered for health insurance in 2017. It’s not just about numbers – it’s about changing lives, like we see in Nathan’s Story.
I have witnessed the powerful impact that WithinReach has on the health and well-being of Washington families, and I am proud and humbled to be part of this work. As a WithinReach Board member and Ambassador, I want more people to know how WithinReach is helping create healthy, vibrant communities in Washington so that all families have the opportunity to thrive.
I invite you to join me in making a difference for families in Washington – consider following WithinReach on Facebook to learn more, or better yet, join me on May 9th at Experience WithinReach, an interactive event designed to show you exactly what this great organization does. You will meet WithinReach staff and learn what this organization is doing every day to address urgent needs and create lasting impact.
Aliyah Hina Quraishi
Strategic Technology Leader at UnitedHealth Group/Optum | Board Member, WithinReach| Entrepreneur | Philanthropist | Proud owner of Shaggy
Obstacles to Access: Tent City
Several residents of Tent City 3 shared that they were in need of dental care, but were having difficulty finding a dentist that would take their Apple Health insurance. We were able to use the WithinReach Resource Finder to pull up a list of providers for these clients to use; however, lack of regular internet and phone access makes finding accessible dental and health care an ongoing struggle.
Similarly, a woman enrolled in Washington Apple Health and Basic Food told us that she was unable to access her benefits because she had recently been a victim of theft. This is an issue that disproportionately affects the homeless, who often don’t have a secure place to store their belongings. Her cell phone and wallet were stolen while she was sleeping, leaving her without personal identification cards, insurance cards, Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) card, or a way to connect and replace these items. In this situation, simply contacting the various agencies in order to request replacement cards was a great challenge and a barrier limiting this woman’s access to health services and food.
Also that night, a 23-year-old woman we worked with was having difficulty accessing the prescription she needed to treat her bronchitis. People experiencing homelessness tend to be more susceptible to chronic illnesses, such as bronchitis, than those with stable housing. Without regular access to a mailbox, this young woman had not received her insurance card and had been denied prescriptions from her pharmacy, even though she has active coverage. We were able to offer suggestions about locations where she could receive mail in the future, and provided her with the phone numbers she needed to replace her insurance card.
Although the AmeriCorps team was able to offer short-term solutions to these clients so that they could access health and food resources, barriers to access, remain in place for the homeless population. These client interactions reminded me that simply signing a person up for benefits is often not enough; working around or removing barriers such as the lack of a mailbox or regular phone access is necessary for successfully connecting homeless clients. As we continue our outreach work with homeless communities, it is important to remember these common issues and try our best to work around them so that all of our clients can have access to health and food resources, no matter what their living situation is.
Need Shelter? Find Tent City sites here: http://www.sharewheel.org/Home/tent-cities
Tags: access AmeriCrops Basic Food Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) card Health care homeless communities ParentHelp123 resource finder Seattle Shelter Tent City 3 Washington Apple Health WithinReach