February 4, 2021
Ana Melendez, Cabrillo Economic Development Corporation (CEDC)
Today we are talking with Ana Melendez, BASW, Resident & Community Service Coordinator, Cabrillo Economic Development Corporation (CEDC).
When did you get involved with your work at CEDC?
Ana: I became interested in the field of community outreach because I have always enjoyed helping others, but I also enjoy the networking aspect of it. With networking I have had the pleasure of getting introduced to other great organizations and use them as referrals for our residents when needed. I started becoming involved with CEDC in May 2019. What brought me to this great nonprofit organization is the way they help the community and what they stand for. “Cabrillo believes that every person has the right to decent, safe and affordable housing”. I felt more attached to Cabrillo because my parents were also farm workers. When I was a child, my family and I did not have any help like the amount of help there is now, such as advocacy for farm workers, low-income families, homework help and access to a computer with internet.
What is your passion for working in the community?
Ana: What I am most passionate about working in the community is the type of relationships I have come across with other agencies that share a similar type of work. I enjoy exchanging resources with others and sharing success stories. Another passion for me is working in the community where I get to wear different hats; I go from networking, to picking up boxes of food and taking them to our residents and I also work with the resident’s children in our Homework Club that is offered twice a week. I enjoy working with children because I know I can motivate them and guide them to go to college. Most of the resident’s children would be first generation graduates just how I was. I like to share with them my experience on how I earned my bachelor’s degree and give them that extra push. In addition, Cabrillo also offers the Rodney Fernandez Leadership Fund Scholarship to honor Rodney Fernandez, CEDC’s founder. This scholarship is there to help CEDC residents attain their educational goals and to empower themselves to improve.
How are you specifically addressing issues of health equity in your work and your community? How are you making a difference?
Ana: I am addressing issues of health equity by bringing Pharmacy Technicians to administer flu shots for the residents that wish to receive it, and bringing Gold Coast Health Plan, Kaiser Permanente, VCBH and other agencies to speak to our residents via Zoom about ways they can stay healthy through this pandemic. I also provide monthly newsletters that have up to date information from the CDC, from free testing sites to how to prevent the spread of COVID-19. I make a difference through educating our residents about washing their hands, staying home if they are feeling sick, how to wear masks correctly, and what to do if they’re showing COVID symptoms.
What are the areas that you hope to make changes in?
Ana: Some areas I hope to make changes are in self-care and mental health. Self-care is very important and have found that a lot of people do not practice self-care, leading them to have more stress. In addition, studies have shown that low-income populations have a higher chance of suffering from mental health issues and not getting professional help because they are not aware of the resources or where to ask for help. That is why I’m glad I’m here for our residents and do wellness checks to see if I can be of any assistance and guiding them to the right places.
Tell us one thing about you that helps us get to know you better?
Ana: One thing about me is that I am a people person, and I am always eager to help those in need. I grew up not having much so giving back to others is a big part of me. Being humble and giving to others can make this world a better place.
If you could give a closing remark for or words of inspiration for the community during this time, what would it be?
Ana: Sometimes we never know what someone is going through so we should always smile and be nice to one another. That person you smiled to today could have just lost a loved one, lost their job, or lost their home, but when they saw you smile at them it gave them hope.
Thank you Ana for sharing your experience with us. You are an inspiring Driver of Change.
Cabrillo Economic Development Corporation (CEDC)