MCM

Helping the Most Vulnerable.

Last winter, day laborers in Marin County were already struggling to get steady work. Since jobs were hit-or-miss many people only made $100-$200 per week. To get by, day laborers were living with friends or family, often in closets or on the floor in shared rooms. But they had roofs over their heads and could send money back to their loved ones in Guatemala, El Salvador, or Mexico.

Day laborers were living in…closets or on the floor in shared rooms.

Last winter, day laborers in Marin County were already struggling to get steady work. Since jobs were hit-or-miss many people only made $100-$200 per week. To get by, day laborers were living with friends or family, often in closets or on the floor in shared rooms. But they had roofs over their heads and could send money back to their loved ones in Guatemala, El Salvador, or Mexico.

Then COVID-19 hit and what little work there was came to a complete stop. People were afraid to hire anyone because of the virus. Many day laborers were undocumented, so they weren’t eligible for any governmental support. Without an income, day workers lost their housing. Friends and family members were afraid to take them in because they were concerned about contracting COVID-19.

It started with a handful of people out on the streets who had never been homeless before. Now, between 100 and 150 people have joined the ranks of those living on Marin’s streets, under freeways, in cars, and in remote open spaces. Multiple homeless encampments have popped up in Novato and San Rafael.

MCM has a long history of providing community support for immigrants, as well as food distribution. So when MCM’s Juan Colonia and Librado Garcia were mobilized by the Marin County Emergency Operations Center this summer, they were prepared to reach out to our most vulnerable homeless neighbors. What Juan and Librado found, and the relationships they developed, profoundly affected them. These people were in crisis. Some of the newly homeless day laborers hadn’t changed or showered in two months — they had no clothes or blankets — and were dehydrated and sick. Juan and Librado didn’t hesitate to help.

Day laborers hadn’t changed or showered in two months…and were dehydrated and sick.

Juan and Librado started providing outreach by passing out lunches and water, then expanded to warm meals. They asked who was feeling sick and referred them to get help. In one case, they called an ambulance for a very sick person named “Gabriel.” Gabriel had pneumonia and was admitted to the hospital. Once he was treated, Juan and Librado helped Gabriel get the resources he needed, first a hotel, then temporary housing, and finally, Section 8 approval.

Juan and Librado went beyond providing simple services — they took photos and made videos documenting what they were seeing on the streets, and the impact of the help they were providing. By reaching out to churches and neighbors and through Facebook, they raised donations of food, clothing, and other resources to help the recently unhoused workers.

Juan and Librado brought an eligibility worker from the County to help people get MediCal or food stamps. Every week they brought volunteers to provide hot meals, clothing, sleeping bags, tents, blankets, haircuts and more, in addition to portable showers provided by the City of San Rafael. They connected people to COVID testing and medical care. And they developed real, human relationships with the people they saw every day. Juan and Librado’s dedication and creativity made a profound difference in the lives of those they visited each week. It made a difference in their own lives as well.

Learn More.

Reach out to learn more about how else we support our most vulnerable community residents during this time of economic stress and hardship.

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