¡VIVA MEDA! 47 Celebrates Latinx Community’s Resilience in Light of COVID-19 Pandemic

by Philanthropic Engagement Manager Lucy Porras

[Watch video clips now! YouTube playlist.]

It was a truly memorable evening Oct. 1, when more than 1,400 community members, funders and supporters headed over to our four social media channels for a live streamed version of the  annual ¡VIVA MEDA! gala. The goal? To celebrate our nonprofit’s 47 years of service to the community.

This was the largest ¡VIVA MEDA! gathering to date — and the first one to be virtual — with the theme for the night being “changemakers.” ¡VIVA MEDA! is an annual celebration of our ongoing work and the many successes of the thousands of families we annually serve. This year, we also took the opportunity to celebrate our collective perseverance in light of the COVID-19 pandemic and continued resistance against the current political climate affront on Latinx and immigrant rights.

Famed TV reporter Gilberto León, looking dapper as always, served as the gala’s emcee for a second year in a row. Kicking off the festivities, we welcomed a pair of fan favorites: the brassy sounds of Mariachi Nueva Generación; and Mission street band Banda Sin Nombre with their sublime hit single, “Esperanza.” Other entertainment for the night featured spoken word by Mónica María.

The program was peppered with inspirational messages via guest appearances by esteemed community leaders, sponsors and local restaurateurs, plus elected officials including Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, San Francisco Mayor London Breed and district supervisors Hillary Ronen (D9), Shamann Walton (D10) and Rafael Mandleman (D8).

MEDA was  honored to present three awards in recognition of phenomenal leadership during this COVID-19  crisis. These awards were:

  • The “2020 Community Healer Award”
    University of California, San Francisco Latinx Center of Excellence
    When the shelter-in-place order started in mid-March, MEDA immediately began hearing stories of hardship from community members; unfortunately, the fear of getting ill came true for too many, with the vast majority of emergency-room visits at San Francisco General all of a sudden being Latinos. In late April, UCSF and its Latinx Center of Excellence came into the heart of the Mission to conduct free COVID-19 testing. What MEDA had been hearing on the ground was then backed by data: While 44% of those tested identified as Latino, 95% of positive cases were Latinos, and almost all were still working out in public to support families making under $50,000 household income a year. Having this data helped in discussions with City Hall, as a way to push for resources in the San Francisco community being hardest hit by the pandemic. Additionally, out of concern for the community, trusted doctors from the UCSF Latinx Center of Excellence gave freely of their time to co-host Spanish-language Facebook Lives as a way to get much-needed, culturally relevant public health information to the Latino community. 
  • The “2020 Community Impact Award”
    San Francisco’s Mission District
    When it comes to generating impact, longtime Mission organizations showcase an enviable track record of success, with many tracing their beginnings to the civil rights movement of the late 1960s. When COVID-19 created a disproportionate negative effect on the Latinx and immigrant community they served, it was more important than ever for this bevy of organizations to join forces to best advocate for their community. This led to the creation of neighborhood food pantries, COVID-19 testing sites in the neighborhood, and the garnering of resources to serve residents and small-business owners so that they could be best positioned to weather the negative physical and economic effects of the crisis. 
  • The “2020 Clients of the Year Award”
    MEDA Promotoras (24 community outreach workers
    When deciding upon the recipient of the “2020 Client of the Year Award,” MEDA decided this year to make the word “Client” plural. That’s because the dedication of MEDA’s 24 promotoras was the clear choice this year. Once COVID-19 hit, these two dozen community outreach workers found ways to still connect with community members in a socially distanced world. For example, help with below-market-rate (BMR) rental housing applications was still offered: This was especially important as MEDA’s own Casa Adelante – 2060 Folsom 100% affordable-housing development was leasing up this past summer. Now, the plan is for the promotoras to become contact tracers, which is so important in the Latino community — a community whose health has been hardest hit during the pandemic. 

Echoing the welcoming remarks by MEDA CEO Luis Granados, a highlight of the evening was a panel, “Joining the Movement as Changemakers: COVID-19 and Civil Rights in Communities of Color.” Moderated by ABC 7’s own Luz Peña, the renowned panelists featured were: civil rights icon Dolores Huerta; former HUD official Mercedes Márquez; and Women’s March co-founder Paola Mendoza. This enthralling panel presented an urgent call to action for the community and stakeholders, running the gamut from activism and civic engagement to teach-ins and using the arts and storytelling to uplift our community’s narrative as a means to activate real change to support the Latinx community, which has been disproportionately impacted by this pandemic. 

With the awards/speeches portion of the program drawn to a close, the powerhouse duo of Board Chairperson Dolores Terrazas and Policy & Advocacy Director Norma P. García invited the audience to become #changemakers, which is MEDA’s network of individual donors. The zealous duo painted a vision of MEDA being fully prepared to scale the organization’s work in 2020 — with equally scaled support from the community. Together, individuals raised over $41,809, which was just a little over $5,000 short of the $47,000 goal to be raised during the gala. In total, over $132,000 was raised in sponsorships and individual contributions — a testament of the community’s power.

The night drew to a close with a new community of #changemakers lighting the way for MEDA’s equitable recovery strategy for the community.

Thank you to all who took part in our first virtual gala. You are indeed true changemakers!


Inspired to give? Text VIVAMEDA to 44-321. Or visit our donation page here.
Feedback or Inquiries? Please contact Lucy Porras: lporras@medasf.org.

Thank you to all of our ¡VIVA MEDA! 47 sponsors   

[Watch video thanking sponsors]

GOLD Sponsors

Cahill Contractors
First Republic
JPMorgan Chase & Co.

SILVER Sponsors

City View @ Metreon
U.S. Bank

BRONZE Sponsors

Goldfarb Lipman Attorneys
Herman Coliver Locus Architecture
San Francisco Electrical Construction Industry


2B Living
Gubb & Barshay
The Herbert Enterprise Group, LLC
Leddy Maytum Stacy Architects
Sprinklerfitters Local 483

Also, thank you to our additional PARTNERS for standing with us during this time

Silicon Valley Bank

Ally Bank
Boston Private
Mechanics Bank
Sterling Bank & Trust

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