It was a truly memorable evening Oct. 20, when more than 430 community members, funders and supporters celebrated in-person at the stunning City View at Metreon in Downtown San Francisco. There were also 288 attendees tuned into our Facebook channel for a live streamed version of the annual ¡VIVA MEDA! gala. The goal? To celebrate our nonprofit’s 49 years of service to the community and the exciting launch of our Promise City initiative.
This was our first ¡VIVA MEDA! gathering since the start of the pandemic — and the first one to be fully hybrid — with the theme for the night being “Misión Unida.” The venue was the spectacular City View at Metreon, which came to life with the warm energy, buzz and excitement of a community that had not been formally reunited since our previous gala in 2019. ¡VIVA MEDA! is an annual celebration of our ongoing work and the many successes of the 15,000 families we engage and serve annually. On the eve of turning 49 — and looking ahead to our semi-centennial milestone — we were thrilled to also announce that MEDA won the right to build another 750 units of affordable housing, inclusive of the Potrero Yard project, a Brown/Black partnership with Young Community Developers and Tabernacle Community Development Corporation. This is a pivotal moment for MEDA’s Community Real Estate team, as we will surpass our goal of preserving or producing 2,000 units according to our Strategic Plan 2021-24 and, more importantly, it means providing not just a casa, but an hogar, to so many of our hard-working residents.
Popular ABC-7 News reporter Luz Peña served as the gala’s emcee for a second year in a row. Kicking off the festivities, we welcomed a pair of the Mission District’s favorite local artists: the melodic sounds of Mariachi Nueva Generación; and Susana y su Orquesta Adelante. Virtual participants had access to special performances by Inti Batey and the captivating La Doña.
The night would not be complete without our annual awards presentation, recognizing two outstanding MEDA clients and two audacious leaders. The four awardees were:
- “MEDA 2022 Business of the Year Award”
Presented by: Wells Fargo’s Senior Vice President of Community Relations Erica Trejo
Awarded to: Lina Mills, Owner of Creative Ideas Catering SF
Lina Mills epitomizes the tenacity and entrepreneurial spirit of so many Latino immigrants in this country. Lina arrived in San Francisco at the tender age of 16 and she began to immerse herself in restaurant work to have a steady income stream and to work on her English-language skills. Over the years, Lina found that her true calling in the bustling restaurant industry was something in which she truly wanted to invest, and she came to MEDA’s business technical assistance department to hone her craft: perfecting her business planning skills and seeking to open up her first brick-and-mortar spot as well. When the COVID-19 crisis struck, she turned to MEDA once more as a reliable source of support for federal loan applications … and hope. Lina has now expanded her successful catering business and recently opened her first cafe. Congratulations, Lina!
- “MEDA 2022 Client of the Year Award”
Presented by: Citi Vice President and Community Relations Market Manager Patricia Vazquez Topete
Awarded to: Arold Josue Hernández, Mission Promise Neighborhood parent
Arold arrived in San Francisco with his young son, Samuel, fleeing the violence of his homeland that tragically led to his partner’s passing. After a harrowing journey, Arold was welcomed by the caring Mission Promise Neighborhood community anchored across Mission schools and early learning centers by 20+ community partners. MEDA has served as the backbone agency of the Promise Neighborhood since the program started 10 years ago. At first, we found Arold living in a shelter with his son. Accessing a wide range of housing resources, academic supports, counseling, financial assistance and parent advocacy tools – all offered by our community anti-poverty education initiative – Arold secured a home for his family and has ensured his son has the academic resources needed to thrive. Arold’s dedication to his son and his indestructible spirit is admirable and to be celebrated. ¡Felicidades, Arold!
- “Resilient Leader Award”
Awarded to: San Francisco Mayor London Breed
In March of 2020, the world forever changed. Mayor London Breed was one of the first elected officials in the country to quickly pivot to the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic and made the decision to shut down nonessential businesses to ensure all San Franciscans could safely shelter-in-place. It was uncharted territory for us all, but the Mayor ensured residents would be able to bounce back by creating innovative Right to Recover funds, the creation of the SF HELP 0%-interest loans for small businesses across the city and launching a strong equitable recovery roadmap. As one of the City’s hardest-hit communities, Mayor Breed earmarked over $25M in funding for Latino-serving programs, adding testing sites to dozens of locations in San Francisco and entrusting service providers to enact City-funded financial relief programs.
- “Legacy Award”
Awarded to: Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi
With this legacy award, we celebrated the Speaker for fiercely representing San Francisco for 35 years. With her visibility and position of power she’s set a robust national agenda centered on equity while never forgetting her home base and her constituency. Over the course of her leadership, the Speaker has established a legacy of bringing critical resources to her local community which have included a focus on affordable housing, education, workforce and infrastructure. These also happen to be key areas as we collectively advance towards an equitable recovery in our district and beyond.
Echoing the welcoming remarks by MEDA CEO Luis Granados, a highlight of the evening was the powerful keynote address by Geoffrey Canada, Founder and President of the Harlem Children’s Zone in New York City. The Promise Neighborhoods model was based on the two-generation, cradle-to-cradle model envisioned by Canada three decades back. That includes the Mission Promise Neighborhood, for which MEDA serves as backbone agency. Canada eloquently spoke on how collective impact translates to results for families and their children so that all have an opportunity to prosper. That model is now being replicated in three other under-resourced San Francisco communities of color, as the first “Promise City” in the nation. (Press release.)
With the awards/speeches portion of the program drawn to a close, the powerhouse duo of MEDA’s very own Policy Counsel, Director of Advocacy Norma P. García and Director of Asset Building Programs Ernesto Martinez inspiring guests to take part in the night’s unique one-to-one match courtesy of generous, anonymous donors. The zealous duo painted a vision of MEDA being fully prepared to scale the organization’s work across the city and nation with the launch of the Equitable Recovery Institute, with equally scaled support from the community. Together, over $294,000 was raised in sponsorships and individual contributions — a testament of the community’s power.
The night drew to a close with a jubilant community standing shoulder to shoulder for una Misión Unida.
Thank you to all who took part in our first in-person gala since the start of the pandemic. We look forward to celebrating with you next year when we turn 50!
Inspired to give? Text VIVAMEDA to 44-321. Or visit our donation page here.
Feedback or Inquiries? Please contact Lucy Porras: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you to all of our ¡VIVA MEDA! 49 sponsors
Silicon Valley Bank
Bank of San Francisco
City National Bank
First Republic Bank
David Baker Architects
Perkins Coie LLP
San Francisco Electrical Construction Industry
Arthur J. Gallagher Insurance
Goldfarb & Lipman LLP
Guzman Construction Group
Nibbi Brothers General Contractors
Tenderloin Neighborhood Development Corporation
Carpenters Local Union No. 22
Gubb & Barshay — Attorneys at Law
Leddy Maytum Stacy Architects
San Francisco Housing Accelerator Fund
The Herbert Enterprise Group LLC
Abanico Coffee Roasters
Café La Taza
Enrique Estate Wines
Golden State Warriors
Herencia del Valle
House of Jefas
Justice Grace Vineyards
Latin American Barbershop
Luz De Luna
Mission Cultural Center for Latino Arts
Precita Eyes Muralists
Roberto Y. Hernández — San Francisco Lowrider Council
San Francisco 49ers
San Francisco Ballet
The Civic Kitchen
Walt Disney Family Museum