Looking Back at 2020

We are stronger
and more resilient
than we know

by Sally Douglas Arce

The last year has given us so many challenges. First, there are the fatalities and economic destruction caused by the pandemic. Secondly, there are the ways the pandemic has exposed the failures of our social, political, and health care system. Then, there are the ways it has divorced us from routines we rely on and the people we love. And, lastly, we realize that it is a delusion that the future is in our control.

...the pandemic has exposed the failures of our...system.

The murders of George Floyd, Ahmaud Aubery, Breonna Taylor, and countless others put a magnifying glass on racial injustice and inequities. Thousands took to the streets calling for police accountability and an end to systemic racism. In Marin County, social justice groups took a position in support of Black Lives Matter. The youth participating in Multicultural Center of Marin’s TAY radio program have voiced their concerns about how the Latinx community is also affected by racial profiling.

At the U.S. southern border, children were separated from their parents and detained in chain-link cages. This put a national spotlight on the inhumane treatment of immigrants. In Marin County, Latinos are impacted. Multicultural Center of Marin’s staff is participating in conversations with other nonprofit and grassroots groups to educate policymakers about the challenges the county’s Latinx residents face when it comes to immigration and racial inequities.

And, as if 2020 had not already delivered enough difficulties, we had numerous California wildfires in which many lost their homes and jobs.

Douglas Mundo

Executive Director

Multicultural Center of Marin

To learn more about what Multicultural Center of Marin has been doing in 2020, I interviewed Douglas Mundo, MCM’s Executive Director.


What is the biggest challenge faced this year by the community members who Multicultural Center of Marin serves?


The virus has greatly affected people who, before COVID-19, were barely getting by to pay their rent and put food on the table. Individuals in immigrant and underserved communities have been impacted more than other Marin County residents. COVID-19 has disproportionately affected the Canal community. MCM has worked with the County and the City of San Rafael to increase accessibility to testing, resources, and support services. As a result, the number of Canal residents testing positive declined.

However, the work does not end there. Families and individuals still don’t have jobs, still need to pay their rent, and still have many other needs. MCM continues distributing masks, hosts a weekly food distribution, and partners with the County and Marin Community Foundation to provide financial resources to those impacted by COVID-19.


What is the Multicultural Center of Marin doing to meet the needs of those community members who are most vulnerable?


MCM works tirelessly to assist Marin County community members impacted by the pandemic. For our December "Christmas in the Canal" event, more than 500 families received food, toys, gift cards, and masks. Earlier in 2020, MCM distributed thousands of donated masks to low income Marin County residents. Mask distribution will be ongoing in 2021.

Your donations will help support MCM’s projects including Cuerpo Corazón Comunidad (Body Heart Community), a Spanish radio show that focuses upon health; MCM's mentorship programs; its leadership development efforts; and more. In the upcoming weeks and months, MCM will distribute financial assistance to immigrant and underserved families and individuals impacted by COVID-19.

MCM continues to support unhoused immigrant and underserved community members with basic living needs and help with their search for housing.


Alongside the hardships, what are the good things you can point to?


Our community members have shown strength in the face of new challenges like the Coronavirus, increased job loss, racism and hate directed at them, polluted air as a result of wildfires, power outages, sea level rise and more. And, I’m leaving out the big thing – fear and anxiety that you or your loved ones will end up with COVID-19.

There is something I love about my community. They have shown the capacity to be creative, to be resilient, and to give support to each other. This is the “unity” that exists in the community.


What are some additional ways that COVID-19 has made us better as human beings?


Before COVID, we loved our family members. But, living with the pandemic has brought that love to the forefront. Also, we appreciate our neighbors and community in a new way. Many of us recognize our personal economic advantages and the importance of giving to our neighbors who are not as fortunate. And, some of us have taken advantage of “sheltering in place” to focus on the simple things in life that bring us joy.


Has COVID-19 fragmented the community?


The opposite. Now more than ever … together we are empowered. I see so much kindness. Neighbors look out for each other. Every Saturday MCM distributes fresh produce, protein, and shelf-stable items for anyone in need.

Wearing a mask is a sign of solidarity with each other. Wearing one sends the message “We are all in this together.”


What will be (might be) the ongoing impact?


The fact that with courage and persistence in the face of many obstacles there is hope. My team at Multicultural Center of Marin was always close and would share ideas with each other. We understand now, more than ever, the importance of really connecting with people.

Going through these challenges has demonstrated that what we can accomplish together is huge.

Making a better marin


We spoke with Marin County community leaders and elected officials about the unique challenges 2020 has presented us. We asked them:

Q:How has the pandemic changed the way you will celebrate the holidays?

Q:Why is it important to remember those who go without this holiday season and beyond?

Q:How can the Multicultural Center of Marin help you in your efforts to meet the needs of our underserved community members?

Dr. Tom Peters
President & CEO
Marin Community Foundation

Kate Colin
San Rafael

MCM is a great partner
Johnathan Logan
VP of Community Engagement
Marin Community Foundation

Rev. Scott Quinn
Executive Director
Marin Interfaith Council

Give to those in need
Dennis Rodoni
Marin County Supervisor
District 4