By Suparba Sil
Jason Hernandez, a former drug dealer turned community champion, has become an inspiring figure in McKinney, Texas, through his remarkable contributions transforming lives and bringing hope to people.
One of his most significant endeavors was the transformation of La Tiendita, an east side grocery store. With the help of local residents, he revamped the store, making it a welcoming space for all. Hernandez aimed to address food insecurity by ensuring access to quality, nutritious food for everyone.
Tanya Winchester, a community speaker, expressed her gratitude for Hernandez’s unwavering belief in each individual’s potential and his commitment to making a difference. She said, “Well, I want to start driving. I need a new van.’ Everyone showed up for me, all because of Jason.”
Patrick Cloutier, a city council member, described Hernandez as an “energizer bunny” with a heart as big as Texas. He praised Hernandez’s relentless energy and dedication, saying, “Jason is the energizer bunny. With a heart as big as Texas.”
Kim Hughes, the administrative director of Gracetochange, highlighted the genuine love and support Hernandez received from the city of McKinney. She said, “This city, McKinney, has truly embraced him. He has a heart of gold. Pure gold. He just wants to help.”
To honor Hernandez’s profound redemption and positive impact, the mayor and the Chamber of Commerce planned a special celebration. Mayor George Fuller commended Hernandez, stating, “Your story is one of profound redemption. This community and its youth are blessed to have your story and life back here in McKinney.”
Overwhelmed with gratitude, Hernandez acknowledged the support of the people of McKinney, saying, “It’s amazing, and I couldn’t do it if I didn’t live in McKinney, Texas.”
The celebration continued, as a sign for La Tiendita was unveiled. Emotionally moved, Hernandez said, “I’m literally shaking over here. One of the happiest days of my life.”
But the surprises didn’t end there. Hernandez, a devoted University of Texas Longhorns fan, received four tickets to an upcoming football game against Wyoming. Overwhelmed with joy, he exclaimed, “Just blast, overwhelmed, super excited.”
As the celebration coincided with the 4th of July, Mark Newgent, a proud McKinney resident and Jason’s father, shared a quote, “It is an honor to share on this 4th of July, a photo of my son receiving the ‘Massoud Day’ proclamation from the Mayor of McKinney, Texas, USA! From my son to yours, the REAL America stands with you, the Afghan people. On this Independence Day, we honor the legacy of Ahmad Shah Massoud and all the Afghan and American soldiers who gave the ultimate sacrifice.”
Jason Hernandez’s journey and the support he received from the people of McKinney serve as a testament to the power of redemption and the ability to create a better future. His impact will continue to inspire and uplift the community as he continues to make a difference in the lives of those around him.
Edited by Newsdesk Manager and Virginia Van Zandt
The San Diego Monitor-News has been serving Black San Diego since 1986