(Watch entire gala or 13 other video clips now! YouTube playlist.)
It was a truly memorable evening Nov. 18, when 650 community members, funders and supporters headed over to our social media channels for a live-streamed version of the annual ¡VIVA MEDA! gala. The goal? To celebrate our nonprofit’s 48 years of service to the community and the Mission District’s spirit of resilience amid the recovery efforts of the COVID-19 pandemic.
This was our second virtual ¡VIVA MEDA! gathering to date, with this year’s theme for the night being “Juntos, Adelante” (“Together, Moving Forward”). ¡VIVA MEDA! is an opportunity for us to reflect on the robust programs and services in the income, housing and small business supports, as well as the many successes of the thousands of families we annually serve. For 2021, we also took the opportunity to spotlight several of our community leaders and program participants who have forged ahead during this challenging time.
Popular ABC-7 TV reporter Luz Peña served as the gala’s emcee for the first time. Luz previously moderated the 47th annual event’s panel discussion featuring Mercedes Marquez, Dolores Huerta and activist Paola Mendoza. Kicking off the festivities, we welcomed for the first time to the stage Mariachi Bonitas de Dinorah Klingler. The all-female troupe started the event with the aptly named classic, “La Fiesta de Mariachi.”
Presenting Sponsor Wells Fargo then had the honor of presenting the “2021 MEDA Client of the Year” award to a powerful small business client and community member who persevered during the COVID-19 crisis.
- “2021 MEDA Client of the Year Award”
Jenny Aguirre, Owner of Chely’s Salon
This year’s recipient was Jenny Aguirre, owner of Chely’s Salon in the Mission. Jenny’s story showcases the resilience and resourcefulness of the community during the pandemic. Jenny has been a small business client of MEDA’s where she was able to receive assistance with her business plan, financial projections and even with navigating the PPP loan process. Jenny also received a Latino Small Business Fund loan from our lending arm and CDFI, Fondo Adelante. MEDA is now able to rent Jenny an affordable commercial space in one of its Small Sites properties.
The program resumed with inspirational messages and vignettes with local entrepreneur Fredy Gámez of Mission Oyster Bar and Mission Promise Neighborhood parent Arold Hernández. Together, these community spotlights showcased the deep reach and multi-faceted work MEDA does to stabilize the community during COVID-19.
Echoing the welcoming remarks by MEDA CEO Luis Granados, we were honored to have on our virtual stage esteemed elected officials: Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi; San Francisco Mayor London Breed; San Francisco Assessor-Recorder Joaquín Torres; and District 9 Supervisor Hillary Ronen. Each one commended the community’s unified spirit and laid out the key components for equitable recovery efforts — efforts which mimic those of MEDA’s foundational work during COVID-19 around housing, jobs, small business and health.
The night’s keynote address was delivered by United States Senator Alex Padilla, the first Latino to represent California. Our Senator shared profound hope for the recovery of the community, with that message grounded in the expanded access to vaccination and the partnership between organizations such as MEDA and the federal government, in helping devise and implement strategies that strengthen the community. He also made an urgent call-to-action for the Latino community to get vaccinated in time for the holiday and winter season. Last year, Latinos were disproportionately impacted by the virus due to their being frontline essential workers in public and the fact that they often reside in overcrowded conditions.
With the awards/speeches portion of the program drawn to a close, the powerhouse duo of Board Chairperson Dolores Terrazas and Policy Counsel, Director of Advocacy Norma Paz García, together invited the audience to partake in MEDA’s end-of-year fundraising efforts by contributing generously.
MEDA looks to be fully prepared to scale the organization’s work in 2022 — with equally scaled support from the community. In total, over $122,000 was raised in sponsorships and individual contributions, which is a testament of the community’s power.
Emcee Luz Peña reminded guests to “keep the giving going” in time for next week’s #GivingTuesday activities, then welcomed Mission street band Banda Sin Nombre to the virtual stage for a closing song of hope, “Esperanza.”
Thank you to all who took part in our second virtual gala. #JuntosAdelante we will ensure an equitable recovery process for our community and beyond.
Inspired to give? Text VIVAMEDA to 44-321. Or visit our donation page.
Feedback or inquiries? Please contact Lucy Porras: email@example.com.