Helping to Build Community

Donor Spotlight: Amanda McCarthy
Posted on Category Stories, Volunteer Spotlight

Community Action Marin donors come from all walks of life and get introduced to the agency in many different ways. One thing is clear in how they ultimately get involved with the agency: they get a chance to see first-hand the transformative services and programs and the life-changing impact it has on those in need in our community. We had a chance to sit down with Amanda McCarthy who tells us her story on how she got involved with Community Action Marin, became a Board member, and continues to be a strong advocate and supporter.

“Every resident of Marin County should know what Community Action Marin is, what the agency does, and look to it for leadership.”  —Amanda McCarthy

How and when did you first come to Community Action Marin?  I first learned about the agency in 2011.  I knew that I would need childcare after my first son was born but couldn’t find anything online.  Eventually, I found Marin Childcare Council (MCC) and got a list of home daycare providers with no addresses, so I called each one until I found a provider that I was excited about.  Once my son started daycare at six months, I learned that I was the only native English speaker and that MCC assisted in helping my provider fill slots at the daycare, including some slots for Community Action Marin.  About one and a half years in, my daycare provider moved locations and became involved in a conditional use permit process with the City of San Rafael, with opposition from NIMBY neighbors that did not want a daycare.  I organized childcare supporters and parents to attend hearings, sign petitions, and formed a mediation group to work with neighbors over a year to get approval for a new daycare, and through the process I connected with key advocates at Canal Alliance and Community Action Marin. After approval of the project, I was asked if I might be willing to serve on the Board of Directors to represent the program that my kids were a part of.  I was humbled throughout the entire process and, in learning that other parents couldn’t read or write in any language, bonded as a group with daycare providers. Fighting for our kids and getting to know this large network of activists throughout Marin was transformational.

As a donor, why do you believe Community Action Marin is a good social investment?  I believe in acting locally and helping to build community.  I grew up loving nature and went into biology and botany to create better environmental outcomes, believing that I would work for The Nature Conservancy or another large environmental group.  I’ve had a very privileged upbringing and career and have wanted to give back, but until my work with Community Action Marin, I didn’t really think about my community not having the same opportunities.  I still support environmental activism but feel that community engagement and uplift will create opportunities to engage more people in caring about the environment.  After all, if you can’t feed or house your family, you can’t really care about the environment, pollution, or global warming.  I believe that Community Action Marin creates opportunities for individuals while supporting families so that basic needs are met, career goals are met, and we can focus on our community.

You helped to transform the agency as a Board leader. What are you most proud of that you helped accomplish?  Every director has put in a tremendous amount of work learning about the programs that the agency administers, wanting to give back to the community and improve outcomes.  We have worked through a lot of transition and change while demonstrating that we care about our staff and will do what it takes to create opportunities through training, advocacy for a living wage, and development of programs that serve our communities’ current needs.  All of our work culminated with hiring our CEO—she is our guiding light and the reason that we have been able to accomplish so much change in such a short amount of time.

What should/do you want everyone in Marin to know about the agency?  Every resident of Marin County should know what Community Action Marin is, what the agency does, and look to it for leadership.  We are becoming the central, organized voice for our community and continue to build partnerships throughout the county. We love to get to know people, neighbors, and families, and will join you in whatever it is that is important to you if it helps to bring our community together.  We are all different, but all share a common goal of a better life for our children. Join us.