Hi, my name is Melissa Hernandez, the founder of the Puerto Rico Project! I am also a member of the Reclamation Project Advisory Team at the Women’s Justice Institute. I specialize in overdose prevention, education and awareness. Also, I engage in community outreach, providing direct aid to individuals experiencing chronic homelessness. I also navigate a syringe access program which includes safe disposal.
Through these different roles, I help identify gaps and barriers in communities, and advocate for systematic changes in Chicago. I have experienced and recovered from severe drug use on my own. Naloxone saved my life and allowed me to save the lives of many people, directly and indirectly. I'm a survivor of human trafficking, domestic violence, incarceration, and socioeconomic oppression. Currently, I educate people maneuver through a system I was once trapped in, utilizing the harm reduction model.
My outreach now consists of food, harm reduction supplies, clothes, blankets, and shoes. The Puerto Rico Project is a growing campaign of advocacy and indirect aid for people experiencing chronic homelessness. During my years of street outreach servicing the community, many people asked me where I could refer them for showers. Unfortunately, there are not many places that allow homeless people to shower or use the restroom. Most of us take advantage of these small basic needs, and don't realize how lucky we are until they're gone.
Your donation will go towards a specialized mobile shower unit with a washer and dryer unit attached. This will help people who are homeless have a chance to get clean without stigma. I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for taking the time to read about this journey, and donating to my grassroots organization.