Hi there! My name is Melina Perez; I use they/she pronouns and I identify as pansexual and Latinx. I was born and raised in Hollister and attended San Benito High School, where I participated in the Guiding and Understanding Individuals in Achieving Success (GUIAS) Program. My GUIAS Case Manager was the first caring and validating adult in my life, which led me to decide on a career path where I could be the person that I needed when I was younger, for others.
I was able to give back to my community in 2019 by becoming a Social Work intern for the GUIAS program while attending CSU Monterey Bay. I obtained my BA in Collaborative Health and Human Services in December of 2020, after which I became a Case Manager for the Transition Age Youth Housing Navigation Program in Santa Cruz County. In this role, I provided support to youth experiencing homelessness and foster youth facing housing instability to help them overcome barriers to attaining and maintaining housing. Before joining the Epicenter, I worked as a Street Outreach Counselor in Monterey County, helping transition age youth experiencing homelessness to find safe and appropriate exits off the streets.
The Monterey Peninsula has become my home due to the beauty and calmness of the area. I enjoy visiting the beach to watch the sunset and being able to go hiking at various scenic locations. My other interests include tending to my plants and succulents, building puzzles, and working on other crafts such as embroidery and scrapbooking. I’m grateful to have acquired a role where I can continue assisting unhoused youth, so that they can also find their home here in Monterey County.
My passion for understanding and supporting this population, as well as my own intersecting identities, have allowed me to work effectively with other first-generation, LGBTQ+, and marginalized youth in the tri-county region. I’m looking forward to applying my prior experience and abilities to successfully develop and coordinate the Mutual Aid Youth Leaders Program at the Epicenter.