OCEANSIDE — Eastside community activist Concha Hernandez Greene passed away on July 24, at age 68, after a battle with breast cancer. Greene is remembered as a fighter for community welfare and safety.
She was instrumental in early grassroots efforts to rid Oceanside neighborhoods of gangs, and was a key influence in gang injunctions being enforced.
Greene helped found Eastside United Community ActioN, or UCAN, which preceded the current Eastside Neighborhood Association. UCAN was the first neighborhood watch group to bring together residents, police and city officials to address community needs.
Greater safety, access to resources and community voice were realized through her efforts.
Greene began community service as a volunteer following the murder of her son in the Eastside neighborhood.
Many fondly remember her for her tenacity and dedication to the community.
Fernando Sañudo, Vista Community Clinic CEO, met Greene in 1995 when they worked together on the California Wellness Foundation project to improve community health.
“The first thing that struck me was she had such a strong command of the neighborhood, she knew everyone,” Sañudo said. “She had real ownership of her neighborhood. She wasn’t afraid of confronting anyone.”
Greene was instrumental in establishing the Chavez Community Resource Center located at Joe Balderrama Park. She worked to turn the former prisoner re-entry center into a community resource center that welcomed and served families, and rid the park of gang meetups.
“The Chavez Resource Center was her,” Sañudo said. “She would make sure to turn that place around.”
She was later hired as a city employee and then supervisor at the resource center. She retired a few years ago due to health reasons.
Margery Pierce, city neighborhood services director, first met Greene when Greene opposed a low-income housing project, and helped turn the proposal into affordable senior housing.
“She was very feisty, and really a fighter,” Pierce said. “If she wanted something she would go for it.
“The number of hours of her devotion in making Eastside a better neighborhood is unmatched. She lived to make Eastside a better community and give opportunities to kids.”
Greene served on numerous city commissions and steering committees fighting tirelessly to improve the quality of life for residents.
She received many awards for her community service including the 2012 North County African American Women’s Association Living Legacy Award and 1999 North County Latinas Association Youth Empowerment Award.
“She taught people to be proud of who they were and where they lived,” Sañudo said.
“Many times people think if you live in a low-income community, didn’t go to college, and don’t have relationships with the right people you don’t have a voice. She proved everybody wrong.”
Greene passed away following her husband Michael Greene and son Armando Hernandez. She is survived by her son Rudy Leibas, daughter Rene Cuevas and numerous grandchildren and great grandchildren.
A rosary and mass was held in her honor on Aug. 5 at St. Mary, Star of the Sea Catholic Church.