Empowering People, Changing Lives

Naco Wellness Initiative began as a small effort to improve health and wellness among neighbors six miles away. These days, our efforts empower our neighbors to visualize their health, wellness, and dreams. They are realizing their dreams with better health education and healthcare support and with their own gardens and efforts. The usual Naco diet once consisted primarily of fatty and snack foods. Today, nutritious produce is preferred.

NWI is a Naco fixture where trusted local residents provide wellness programs, education, and classes; gardening instruction; and basic healthcare for young and old. NWI relies on local businesses for construction and maintenance needs.


NWI Garden Director Norma Bernabe grew up in a greener part of Mexico where everyone gardened. “More people need to know the benefits of gardening,” she said, and she has been instrumental in teaching her Naco neighbors. 

“People say, ‘So many women work with Naco Wellness.’ I say, Yes, we women can do it. I work with a wonderful team of excellent coworkers who support one another in everything. We lift each other up. It’s empowering because some of us are of an age where we don’t find as many stable work opportunities. This is our opportunity. I want to say thank you to all the people who support Naco Wellness, who give us the opportunity to help our families and to empower others, too.”

Empowering Communities

Life is better in Naco. All across town, gardens feed bodies and spirits. People with chronic illnesses are monitored in NWI clinics without incurring costs. Parents and children receive triage care, health education, cooking, and exercise classes. Isolated senior citizens get together for fun and food every Monday. Children 3 to 12 get VIP attention on Fridays. Community health fairs are held. Holidays are celebrated. People are, too.

“Our gardens and clinics help provide the infrastructure for wellness in Naco. There have been many big, positive changes in 19 years. Naco residents talk about self-reliance and doing things for themselves. We would love to see social enterprise next: Perhaps building up our food preservation efforts to trigger small businesses that employ people and create future revenue for Naco Wellness, too.”

Tom Carlson


Help Us Keep the Improvements Coming

The quick development of the San Jose Garden during Covid doubled the Naco Wellness Initiative budget – in marvelous ways. We grew more food and fed more people than ever. More people now visit NWI clinics and participate in NWI programs, especially schoolchildren. NWI added more women to our Naco Promotora team, improving their job skills and increasing their family budgets through the small stipends team members receive.