Noriann Marie Meléndez Vélez
Cleansing and maintaining beach waste in Puerto Rico.
Guayama, Puerto Rico
Affiliations & Roles
Creator of Cuatro Costas
Noriann M. Meléndez Vélez is a Puerto Rican journalist and photojournalist who completed her studies at the Universidad del Sagrado Corazón in Santurce, Puerto Rico last May 2020. During her studies at the university, she worked in a university program called work and study where they helped students obtain additional income and work experience. She worked in the American Red Cross Chapter of Puerto Rico from August 2015 to July 2019. That experience helped her to develop as a leader. She worked in various departments such as Human Resources for Volunteers, Communications, Disaster, Armed Forces, and Recovery after Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico. She also gained experience partnering with the Adventist Church to aid those affected by the 2020 earthquakes in Puerto Rico by providing food, first aid, and other municipalities.
Before the pandemic began in Puerto Rico, Noriann was already looking to volunteer in Spain while studying for a Master's Degree. But due to the pandemic, everything changed. By mid-June 2020, Noriann was already looking for solutions to do what she loved so she tried to volunteer at the Puerto Rico Manatee Center at the Interamerican University of Bayamón, Puerto Rico. But because of the distance and the lack of access to Covid tests, it was not easy to verify whether someone had covid or not. Even so, Noriann continued looking for solutions by requesting volunteer opportunities in different organizations.
On February 2, 2021, Noriann decided that she wanted to clean her community's beaches in Guayama. She reached out to a few people and five people responded. She decided to take this initiative and form it into a project. After identifying the beaches that her group would focus on, she settled on Las Mareas Beach in Guayama. The beach is located in a poor community that has been abandoned by the government.
On February 21, 2021, at 7:00 a.m, twelve volunteers arrived at Las Mareas Beach in Guayama. The group included older adults, young adults, and children. Noriann was amazed by the turnout. She divided the groups into two: six were in the green areas and six were on the coast. As they cleaned they realized that the beach was a clandestine dump where people from other parts of Guayama threw their garbage since the Department of Transportation and Public Works of the municipality of Guayama had rules about what could and could not go into the landfill. After finishing cleaning the coast Noriann realized that there was more work to be done.