Harriet Hernandez Salinas is a Community Support Specialist at Community Action Marin. She started with the agency in November 2022, but it seems like she has been part of the team for much longer. “CAM is the environment where it’s easy to ease into everything,” she admits.
A natural in her role, Harriet’s values align perfectly with that of the organization, one of the many things that drew her to Community Action Marin. She explains, “I like the diversity of people from all places. I really like how inclusive CAM is…I also identify with service and feel privileged to be in a role to help people in this community, especially with the class disparity that exists in Marin. One side of the people have generations of resources to rely on, and then there are those who don’t.”
As a Community Support Specialist, Harriet works closely with a state program called California Advancing and Innovating Medi-Cal (CalAIM), which aside from medical and preventative health care, also funds non-clinical services that have an impact on health, such as access to housing or healthy food, services that CAM provides. As Harriet explains:
“We assist with both Housing Navigation and Housing Tenancy. Someone who has Medi-Cal can sign up. We help them find housing, receive benefits, and identify barriers that prevent them from finding permanent housing. For those people who do have a place to stay but are having trouble paying bills, we might help them increase their income through new jobs, or even with asking for a salary increase from their current employer.”
Harriett helps people sign up for CAM services and then directs them to the proper team, working closely with Chris Miranda, Safety Net Manager and also with our Community Alternative Response (CARE) homeless outreach teams. Says Harriet, “CARE takes on the case management of these clients. Right now, we have 16 active clients. Some days my role is more data entry while CARE will phone and email people. I do often help out.” Harriett likes the idea of giving back.
“Being of service to community is important. I’m proud to be of service to all people,” she says. One of the highlights of her first few months with CAM was working with Chris and the CARE Team and getting a housing deposit for someone. She said, “Once you participate in Medi-Cal, you can qualify for a deposit. Before it was difficult. This was a big win for the family after being denied a lot — they received $5,000. And now the family we helped has their own apartment. Before they lived in a garage together.”
Prior to Community Action Marin, Harriet worked at Marin Community Clinics as an Enrollment Counselor — enrolling people for state benefits. In this position, Harriett explains, “I learned a lot about numbers and sometimes felt like a machine. Then a neighbor posted about the position at CAM and encouraged me to apply.”
At that point, Harriet didn’t know much about CAM, but said she wanted to work there once she knew the agency’s values, the services offered, and the people who worked there. She said, “I think that CAM is the right place for me. It made me so excited to get the job.”
Harriett graduated from school in 2020, during the pandemic. After that she went to Nicaragua, where her family is from. She stayed in Nicaragua for a year but then told herself, “I need to start working and put my degree to use.”
Her first position was in San Francisco with the Huckleberry Youth Programs where she learned about the need for social justice for immigrant families which opened her mind to different possibilities. “Huckleberry has a youth shelter, and resources for social justice, criminal justice, and more. Huckleberry was my first experience with an organization that could do so much. CAM is a good equivalent. It is building up my tool belt of resources. I’m very glad I’m going to continue to grow more on this path to helping my community.”
She explained, “You look at your own efforts as a single person and sometimes it is hard to see how significant you are. When you look at CAM, you can see your presence and impact. Community Action Marin values its employees and the community. It gives me hope to be a part of the change we need to see.”
When not working at Community Action Marin, Harriet still helps out at Huckleberry when they need volunteers. She is also a cat mom, and loves to do anything her cat is doing. We are thrilled to have Harriet on the team!
Learn more about careers at Community Action Marin.