The world has changed plenty since 1973 when MEDA started its mission of asset building for the low-income Latino community in San Francisco, but one thing has remained the same: the need to offer a helping hand to those looking to achieve family economic success.
Such success is designed in many ways, so MEDA has expanded its free programs over the years. From Business Development and Housing Opportunities to Free Tax Preparation and Workforce Development, MEDA can now help clients however needed. Through this service-integration model runs a thread of Financial Capability—integral to any family’s stability. Plus, with recent displacement issues in the neighborhood, a Community Real Estate team has been added, complemented by the new Adelante Fund, which will provide microbusiness loans to those who cannot access capital through traditional banks.
The venue for ¡VIVA MEDA! was the Terra Galley in Downtown San Francisco. There was a festive air, with the mellow sounds of the Clarion Alley Crew greeting the 275 guests as they donned nametags and started mingling for an hour and a half.
One the official program began, the more robust sounds of the Mariachi Nueva Generacion filled the air, accompanied by one of the night’s honorees: Richard Carranza, superintendent of the San Francisco Unified School District. Carranza received MEDA’s “2015 Community Leadership Award,” for his being at the helm of SFUSD and its innovative Vision 2025.
The next honoree was Bob Annibale, in from London for the event. Annibale was introduced by Ben Mangan, who serves as executive director of the Center for Social Sector Leadership at Berkeley’s Haas School of Business. Once handed his plaque for MEDA’s “2015 Community Innovation Award,” Annibale, who works for community development and inclusive finance at Citi, spoke about novel programs to help underresourced communities thrive (read white paper developed with MEDA).
The third honoree was Leigh Phillips, who just took on the position of president and CEO at EARN after many years at San Francisco’s City Hall empowering low-income communities. Phillips also served on MEDA’s Board for a number of years, including over three years as president. Phillips’ “2015 Community Empowerment” was well earned.
A trio of longtime MEDA staff then received “Adelante Legacy” awards for their community service. Lydia Lllanes Gómez, Rosabella Safont and Teresa Garcia (pictured) were definitely shocked, thinking there were in attendance just to have a good time.
With some many client success stories, it was a tough to decide upon MEDA’s “2015 Client of the Year,” but the honoree was determined to be D’Maize Catering. Zenaida Merlin (pictured with her son holding her plaque) and Luis Estrada had moved to the United States from El Salvador to find a better life. They were able to start a successful catering business with the help of MEDA. The industrious couple is now ready to open their first brick-and-mortar restaurant in the Mission—not an easy thing in an area of escalating commercial rents.
Throughout the evening, guests had been watching an “instant mural” come to life, courtesy of Precita Eyes Muralists‘ Max Marttila and Priya Honda. To come up with the subject matter for tonight’s mural, MEDA asked for art contests to be held at the four Mission Promise Neighborhood schools. The idea was for students to represent their present or future life in San Francisco’s Mission District. While all artwork created was amazing, the drawings deemed most inspirational were proudly hanging in Terra Gallery. This vibrant mural was auctioned off, with the lucky winner having a unique keepsake.
Attendees then had the opportunity to help the community via the “Power the Promise” campaign. Paddles were raised, with much-appreciated, generous donations enabling MEDA to continue to empower 6,300 low-income clients each year, with all services always free.
To round out the evening, a packed dance floor showcased some of the moves of MEDA staff, volunteers and attendees. It was hard to resist dancing, with the pulsating rhythms of Adelante Salsa Band taking over.
All in all, it was a great night for the community. Today the work continues.
THANK YOU TO OUR ¡VIVA MEDA! 2015 SPONSORS