May 10, 2022
Elvia Hernandez, Project Esperanza Coordinator
Every issue we feature stories of individuals and agencies that are making a difference in their communities. Today we are talking with Elvia Hernandez, Project Esperanza Coordinator. Elvia is a valuable and effective community health liaison and has been affecting change in Santa Paula for years now.
When did you get involved with your work at Proyecto Esperanza?
Elvia: In 2009 I was invited to work at Proyecto Esperanza. I didn’t have much knowledge of this organization, but when they explained to me how important it was to take care of one’s mental health, I became very interested. With the help of the team at the program, we began to prepare the plan to serve the Latino community. This project was based on the importance of focusing on the mental health needs in the Latino community.
What is your passion for working in the community?
Elvia: I believe we all have a mission in life, and mine is to help my community. I am passionate about helping the community and full of pride that I can do this. As human beings we must take care of each other and lead by example. Gaining people's trust is very important. I am interested in helping children, especially those with special needs, and the elderly. For over 30 years I have worked with many people from whom I have learned something new every day.
How are you making a difference?
Elvia: Proyecto Esperanza has prevention programs for children, adolescents and the elderly. There is a commitment to educate our community on the importance of mental health. By creating workshops that explain how to identify when someone is experiencing symptoms of mental illness, we can encourage people to get help and to live a better quality of life. During the past two years of the pandemic we never stopped working in our community, using text, zoom, and phone calls. We offered vaccine clinics, masks, COVID tests, and support to the community.
What are the areas that you hope to make changes in?
Elvia: I would like to help break down the barriers that exist for people who speak Spanish, and to help people to ask for help when they need it most.
Tell us one thing about you that helps us get to know you better?
Elvia: My brothers came to this country, and eventually brought my parents and family members in the 1980’s. I have three daughters and five grandchildren.
If you could give a closing remark for or words of inspiration for the community during this time, what would it be?
Elvia: When we work in benefit of the community, we must do it in an honest way and from the heart. People need to feel that they are important to us and to themselves. If we work together, and we join to help each other we can overcome any adversity. We are still going through difficult times in this pandemic, but it left us with a great lesson, to value our loved ones more and never forget the people who are no longer with us.
Thank you, Elvia, for sharing your experience with us. You are an inspiring Driver of Change!
Project Esperanza is at the service of the people of the Santa Clara Valley (Santa Paula, Fillmore, and Piru) helping you to connect to resources from the smallest to the greatest needs.