December 1, 2021

Community Partner Spotlight: Myriam Perez of A Just Harvest

community partner spotlight Myriam Perez

A partner shares how her work promotes community health in the broadest sense, and how we work together

In addition to traditional healthcare, we are always thinking about the social determinants of health (SDOH), defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as “conditions in the places where people live, learn, work, and play that affect a wide range of health and quality-of life-risks and outcomes.”

As a federally qualified health center, Heartland Health Centers board is majority-led by people from the community who use our services and our clinics have community advisory boards to provide advice and help spread the word about our services. Outreach Coordinator Gina Smith conducted this interview with one of those board members and community partners, Myriam Perez from A Just Harvest. This interview is re-posted from our social media feeds.

What led you to your role?

“My name is Myriam Perez and I am the Energy Outreach Coordinator and Organizer at A Just Harvest. Before, I was a saleswoman for a private solar power company. I realized quickly that their business practices were unfair, their marketing was unethical, and their communication was not clear. I felt as if I was leading, mainly Spanish speaking, people into a negative situation. Then I found this job posting online (with A Just Harvest) and applied right away. Now, I educate people on solar energy, inform them of the consumer protections of Illinois Solar For All, and create a positive experience when thinking about solar power.”

What does your organization do?

“A Just Harvest mission is to end poverty and reduce hunger by providing hot healthy meals daily from 12pm to 2pm at our community kitchen. Also, distributing food every Wednesday 3pm-5pm and every third Monday of the month. The second strategy we use is to advocate, organize, and do outreach with programs like ILSFA and ERAP to cultivate community power. Lastly we create jobs, education and community development throughout our Above Ground Urban Agriculture program.”

Why is it important for your org to be involved in healthcare?

“The connection between A Just Harvest and a healthcare facility like Heartland Health Centers is important because alone we cannot end poverty and sustain the people in our communities. Everyday there are people becoming homeless and suffering to survive. Yet mental health, physical health, environmental health, social and emotional health are not 100% accessible and affordable. Therefore, together we can advocate across racial, cultural, and socioeconomic lines to prioritize and create a more just society.”

Anything else you want to share?

“To learn more about Illinois Solar For All please sign up at: ilsolarforall.org. If you have questions regarding A Just Harvest or would like to learn more please reach out to Myriam Perez at myriam@ajustharvest.org or 773-262-2297.”