Welcome, Community Connections Coordinator Jackie Hernandez!

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Jackie Hernandez joined the Healthy Homes team earlier this month, and has hit the ground running since. She's pictured here on the left from this year's Rock the Block event representing Get The Lead Out. She is working full-time as the community connections coordinator, doing outreach and education, as well as managing applications for the Get The Lead Out program. 

Jackie is certainly no stranger to grit. She grew up in Alice, Texas and came to Michigan as part of a migrant camp with her family at the age of 10. Her family decided to stay in Michigan after they saw opportunity in the manufacturing boom that was happening at that time and stayed in Grand Rapids.  She was inspired at the age of 30 to live a life of service. At that time, she worked for York Creek apartments, which connected her to a local rotary club. The club's motto was, “service above self.”

"That was an a-ha moment. It was something I have always been seeking, something I never knew I wanted."

Shortly after, she left York Creek, and took to volunteering for Well House, a nonprofit which helps get homeless people off the street. 

"Part of what interested me in Well House was that I got it. For a short while, it was part of my story." 

In addition to volunteering with Well House, she became a volunteer coordinatior for the Hispanic Chamber, which lead her to LINC. 

Jackie started as a receptionist, but quickly moved into direct community work, where she worked as a community liasion. In that position, she met people where they were and connected community members to needed resources. Leaning on her personal experience, she helped people navigate the complicated and specific systems required.

After three years at LINC, she was ready to move on. Her move to Healthy Homes came at a prime time in her personal life. She was interested in Healthy Homes for a few reasons, like at LINC, she connected personally to the issue of environmental hazards. Her own family was impacted by lead; her oldest (of five sons!) had blood lead levels between 9 and 11 as a child, and was diagnosed with ADHD. She went to the Health Department and was advised to take action if his blood lead levels are over 10. She felt she wasn't given enough information and support to understand the impact that lead can have. Beyond the personal connections, the grassroots nature of Healthy Homes presents the type of challenge where she thrives. 

"I prefer to be at grassroots level, where I can recharge and make real change." 

In addition to her career working in the community, she commits herself to her home community of Wyoming as both the current PTO president for the Godfrey-Lee school district, as well as the second ever Latina School Board member at Godfrey-Lee. 

In these roles, Jackies want to help empower other parents to leadership. 

"I want them to see somebody who looks like them. Who talks like them. Who makes them feel comfortable." 

One of her current goals is to have a seat on the City Council of Wyoming to help bring diversity to their local government. She wants to stay local, where she can be among her community.

"I want to be an agent of change where I can see the change."

As for hobbies, "I love the beach. I was probably a mermaid in another life. Sand, sun, and water, I'm good." 

She also enjoys reading and art, and spending time with her kids. 

Jackie describes herself as a "genuine, caring rebel." and the label suits her well. She's a rebel with a cause: to serve and to be a strong voice in her community. We can't wait to see what she does next.

Welcome, Jackie! 

 

 

 

 


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