Having lived in Northern California before moving to Los Angeles, I am familiar with Marin County. Although most of my experience with Marin County consists of stopping at some area for lunch at In-N-Out Burger, going to Muir Woods, driving through to get to San Francisco and stopping just short of the Golden Gate Bridge (on the north side) and just off Sausalito to photograph the great view of SF from the Marin County side. So, I don’t really have a lot of experience with Marin County save for what I just mentioned. I was looking forward to seeing what Victor could share with me and learning as much as I could about Marin County.
View of the Golden Gate from Marin County and Sausaliton
He came by to get us in the morning and his car was already loaded with food schedule to be delivered that day. Imagine if you can three adult men, all well over 200 lbs. getting into a 4 door Prius hatchback while carrying loads of video equipment and trying to maneuver around enough food to feed 35 people that day. Needless to say, it was cramped and crowded for me sitting in the back right behind Victor while he drove. I am already claustrophobic and being in the situation just added to my uneasiness. I am trying to conduct a documentary on a topic that I really haven’t ever thought about or really cared for and now have to sit, completely squashed up against a car door and hundreds of pounds of food. This should go well…
Here's Frank Nolan getting a shot of some fountain at a Catholic School. You can see the small car filled with food behind Frank.
We got Victor mic’ed up and loaded up the car with our gear (somehow) and were off to feed the hungry of Marin County. While driving around I started learning more and more about the county. I was surprised to see how many people are actually going hungry in this county considering the vast amount of wealth here. Marin is the 16th
wealthiest county in the country but would be listed considerably higher in the rankings if it were more populous. I say this because as we were driving around and I was noticing all the grand, beautiful homes with great gardens surrounding the properties, breathtaking views of the bay and air that is more pure than most cities to which I have traveled. It is a remarkable and magnificent area. I started to wonder how anyone in this area could go hungry considering most of these homes are worth well over one million dollars. So, like all good documentarians, I asked Victor how could anyone go hungry while living here? This area is loaded with wealth and these homes are wonderful. It was here that I really started to understand the plight of a lot of seniors and learned what is happening to a lot of seniors. Victor explained it this way (and I’m paraphrasing)…
He informed me that a lot of seniors in this area have lived here their entire lives and when they bought these homes 30-40 years ago and none of them were worth that price then. Obviously they have increased their value over the years and these people don’t want to leave their homes, therefore, they have become house rich. They are still paying property taxes, utilities and other bills while trying to afford their medications and food. And, most of these people don’t want to leave their homes because it’s all they have left in this life. I started thinking too about what I would do in that situation. It’s easy for me to just sit back and question their decisions and life and make snap judgments about these seniors. But since I have never been in their situations I cannot completely comment. I know a lot of readers would just say, “Why don’t they sell their home and move into a smaller place like an apartment or nursing home?” Believe me, I know you’re asking these questions because I thought the same thing. But if all I had in this world was my home then you can believe I would stay.
As we continued to drive around Marin County we kept delivering food over and over and over and over and over again. He and his staff deliver 330 meals each day and there is a waiting list of more than 200 people just in Marin County. Each time I was amazed at how many people Victor delivered food to, where they lived and the fact they needed food. It was a great interview (I am saving the majority of what we talked about for the documentary because it’s pretty in depth) and I couldn’t believe how many people are going hungry in this country. It once again confirmed my belief that if hunger can happen in Marin County in can happen anywhere. By the time we had finished delivering food I was exhausted. This is hard work and I am amazed at the commitment and knowledge Victor has. More importantly, I was amazed at the relationship Victor has with his clients (people receiving food). He really cares about these people and knows many of his clients’ interactions with other human beings takes place when he delivers the food. That’s just sad to me and I hope that never becomes my life; I love people too much. But the one question that kept playing repeatedly in my head during that day was this, “With so much wealth then why are the people going hungry in this county?”
Victor Buick with one of Marin County's Meals on Wheels biggest supporters. If you can't tell she and Victor have a very close and caring friendship.
More tomorrow about what Victor is doing to try to get funds and I think you would be surprised to learn about his operating budget (or lack thereof).
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