Marin Family Action (MFA) is a grassroots non-profit organization whose mission is to empower low to moderate income families and individuals to actively participate in improving their social and economic quality of life. We are a 501(c)(3) agency working to help create affordable and sustainable living for all in Marin County.
MFA is very passionate about the work it provides and we feel that if our constituents can know their right as consumers, and are shown the proper steps to address their financial matters, we will make a change, not only in their personal lives but also in the broader community given this current state of economic depression.
Our goal is to educate families and individuals on how to use the resources provided by MFA to understand their rights as consumers and take the right steps to correct and improve their financial situations.
Our objective is to educate clients on understanding their credit reports, dealing with credit card company’s, answering credit card judgments filed against them in the courts of law, filing for bankruptcy, and understanding how to stabilize their finances through adult and youth financial literacy workshops.
(Image above: Executive Director Manny Fernandez in front of the Marin Justice Center which houses the offices of Marin Family Action.)
History of Marin Family Action
Marin Family Action was started by Dorothy Hughes, who is included in Marin Women's Hall of Fame. She was known an an organizer who was always there when needed. (Community Action Marin has named a Humanitarian Award after Dorothy Hughes.
Manny Fernandez began giving free seminars in homeless and transitional housing facilities in Marin County. His seminars help low-income families understand the steps it takes to resolve credit problems and obtain affordable housing. As word about the seminars spread, they were in demand. The seminars developed into a program, which later merged with the already-established Marin Family Action (MFA).
In 2003, Manny became Executive Director of Marin Family Action. After four years of utilizing office space in the First United Methodist Church in San Rafael, Ca, MFA was asked by the Marin Community Foundation to participate in a one-stop shop of resources at the Marin Justice Center in San Rafael, Ca. Through MFA, Manny has been able to assist families in locating affordable housing, obtaining health issuance for children, cleaning up credit, gaining control of their financial situations, and learning the basics of home ownership.
"Marin Family Actons mission is to try to assist everyone who comes into our office find affordable housing." And due to the economic slowdown in recent years, MFA added services to guide families in severe financial need, which includes filing for bankruptcy. When the mortgage bubble burst and families began facing foreclosure with nowhere to turn for help that they could afford, Marin Family Action stepped up.
The non-profit started with one family by trying to obtain a loan modification to avoid foreclosure. As it became apparent that mortgage loan modifications were not working in most situations and were merely early steps in the foreclosure process, Manny began researching the problem. Why was foreclosure happening so often Why weren't loan modifications being processed based on government programs and the billions of taxpayer dollars slated to avoid foreclosure (Image: Manny with his son, Nick, being honored at Heart of Marin Awards 2009)
Now, his client list includes more than 275 families with real holdings exceeding $180 million dollars (and the subsequent $2.1 million in property taxes annually). For the most part, these are famliies who have never faced financial strive and bureaucracy. Marin Family Action is there to guide them through the nightmare process of trying to save one's homes.
On September 15th, 1962 in the small town of Yuma AZ, where the borders of Mexico, California and Arizona meet, Manny Fernandez was born into a family of seven children. Manny grew up helping his single mother and learned the importance of community at a early age. During my younger years, I always worked to be a leader in everything I did. My passion was to bring everyone together. I believed that anything was possible. With his hard-working mother and grandmother to guide him, Mannys mission in life was very clear: To work hard and help the community.
My grandmother was an inspiration to me. One day I drove her to work at a convalescent hospital. I asked, Grandma, what do you do at work Her reply has stayed with me to this day. She replied that she took care of old people and she cleaned them when they would mess on themselves. I said out loud, Oh, my God! Why do you do that She said because someone has to. It was from that day forward that I believed it was my mission in life to help my community.
At the age of seven, Manny and his family moved to Fontana, California where he graduated from Fontana High School in 1980. His mother thrived in the real-estate business, and subsequently was elected to public office in 1996. She has since been referred to as Amazing Grace Vargas, Honorable Mayor of Rialto, Californai as she continues her fourth term in office.
In 1984, Manny married and during the next few years had two children, Christa Fernandez and Nicholas Fernandez. Always a Mr. Mom," Manny was active with keeping his children in sports, teaching conferences, helping in classrooms to make certain sure children did not cause problems, attending ball games, and taking family vacations once a year.
However, after seven years, Manny fell victim to a foreclosure and bad credit. My ex took the children and moved to San Francisco to begin a new life. I stayed behind in Southern California, but living without my children was not something I wanted to do; after 18 months of missing them, I moved to Marin County. It was not an easy move due to bad credit from the foreclosure, and Manny decided to work on clearing up his credit. He opened a checking account and found an affordable place to live. In 1996 Manny learned of Hamilton Air Force Base affordable housing project and he wanted to participate in that program, but needed to get his financial problems solved.
Finding the solutions to resolve his bad credit took two years of trial and error. But once Manny found the answers and was able to get back into the mainstream of good credit," he wanted to share his knowledge and resources with everyone and anyone who was experiencing the same situation.
"As I felt in my younger years, I believe one of my primary missions in life is to help my community. I believe that by helping families navigate the difficulties of bad credit and teaching them about affordable housing solutions helps build a stronger community. Though Marin Family Action, I continue to follow this passion.