Korean Women’s Association and Elevate Health Seek Equity Through Caring Pathways Coordinators

October 6, 2021

By Robert Marshall Wells, Director of Marketing and Communications at Elevate Health + Kelsey Horne, Communication Specialist at KWA

As far back as she can remember, Joyce Jefferson says she has been a helper, a supporter, and a listener, all qualities that she attributes to her mother and father, who raised a total of 12 children.

Joyce (right) with members of the Firstfivefundamental KWA Advocacy group in Olympia

“They taught us to be compassionate,” Jefferson says of her parents, residents of South Carolina. “I love people. I love working with people. If you listen instead of talking, people tell their stories.”

In a career spanning four decades, Jefferson has listened carefully and contributed to hundreds of lives, serving as a foster parent, a staff worker at Sylvester House, a group home in Tacoma, among many other roles.

Jefferson shows no signs of slowing down. For the past three years, she has worked at the Korean Women’s Association (KWA).

When she first started at KWA, Jefferson performed breast cancer outreach almost exclusively.

But in fairly short order, Jefferson became a Pathways Care Coordinator. In this role, she helps residents all over Pierce County access a range of services, from mental health to food and nutrition, to housing and rental assistance. Pathways Care Coordinators work with our community partner, Elevate Health to bring the best services to their clients.

Since early 2020, of course, much of Jefferson’s time has been spent helping her clients access testing and treatment for COVID-19.

“I build a trust,” Jefferson says, “and it goes beyond being a pathways coordinator. I’m an advocate for my clients. People are going through stuff. We’re all going through stuff. We’re all in this together.”

KWA’s Community and Behavioral Health team bringing COVID-19 tests to their clients.

Tina White, a Fife resident in her 60s who is also a caretaker for her mother, says Jefferson came to her rescue when she encountered some health issues several years ago.

“Joyce cares,” says White, who explains that Jefferson helped her identify and secure medical resources. “No matter who you are she’s willing to help. She cares about people and likes to help people.”

Jefferson has earned a reputation for being willing to go above and beyond in her service to the community, also a hallmark for KWA, which provides services to all of Western Washington through 15 offices in 17 counties and more than 10,000 people each year.

KWA has been a social services leader for nearly 50 years, a reputation known throughout the region by our community partners like Elevate health.

“They have been a great partner in the community,” says Sally Kim, Clinical Care Network Director for Elevate Health. “They have a lot of different services. They’ve done a really good job, They’ve been a really good partner to work with.”

Joyce (right) with her client, Tina (left)

KWA is proud to be one of six community organizations with which Elevate Health partners to coordinate and deliver more than 20 outcome-based health and social services through a hub and spoke model.

Carolynn Nofsinger, Elevate Health’s CCN Operations Manager, agrees that the Elevate Health and KWA partnership is a community asset, and adds that Jefferson is an excellent representative of the dedicated social service professionals serving the South Sound Region.

“Joyce,” Nofsinger says, “she’s a delight to work with. She never has a bad attitude. We’ve heard nothing but great things about her.”

Jefferson says she is committed to helping those who are less fortunate, regardless of their backgrounds.

“I reach out to anyone who needs the help,” Jefferson says about the levels of need in many South Sound communities. “I do a lot of outreach with everybody. I don’t care what color they are. I think it’s important about the equity. That’s what we’re working for. Where’s the equity?”