A tipping point is defined as the point at which a series of small changes or incidents becomes significant enough to cause a larger, more important change. Everyone has the opportunity to embrace the small moments in life and make more of them, however only the most passionate create meaningful, noticeable impact. Mike Sierra found his when he noticed San Francisco being forcibly gentrified for the sake of hosting the latest Super Bowl. The homeless were being herded away from desirable locations for the benefit of temporary appearances. Tents and people were being hosed down in the middle of the night for nobody to notice. Instead of looking the other way and carrying on with a bitter opinion of how people can be treated, an initiative was born. To Mike, the homeless were not outcasts, but people, neighbors, community.
“My first goal was to feed 100 people. Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, which I now know is full of sugar and not very nutritious. I was very naive back then. But it was a peanut butter sandwich, a granola bar and a bottle of water.”
In 2016, Mike Sierra created the San Francisco Homeless Outreach Project (or SF HOP) with his father, Rafael. The ambition was to create a grassroots program focused on feeding those in need. Once his program began serving the greater bay area, primarily Oakland and Antioch, the project was renamed The Myriad Outreach Program. The program runs entirely on volunteer efforts, gofundme.com, social media awareness and humanitarian efforts on a global scale. The program feeds 400 people every month with a grand total of 5,544 to date. Meals are cooked and distributed outside of people’s home kitchens and cars on the last Saturday of each month. The program works in conjunction with other similarly focused organizations throughout the state. Mike is also running Meals On One Wheels, a program similar in nature that feeds people in San Jose, where volunteers deliver food via onewheels, self-balancing single wheel electric skateboards.
Since its inception, Myriad Outreach Program has branched out with garbage pickup programs, banner drops, protests against bigotry (namely for the closing of children detention camps and the disbanding of ICE) and art collaborations in the vein of combating discrimination. The program does not have any political affiliation, yet remains passionate about issues regarding injustice towards people at the most basic level.
The concept of Myriad was conceived while Mike studied Critical Diversity at San Francisco City College. Myriad, defined as a countless or extremely great number, is intent on focusing on improving the basic qualities of people. The qualities we all share as people. One of many, in solidarity. Mike transferred from CCSF to the University of San Francisco, where he received his BA in Critical Diversity Studies in 2019. The degree is a culmination of sociology, gender studies, theology and latin/black diaspora. He is nearing a graduate degree in Organizational Leadership.
Mike doesn’t harbor any negativity during the explanation of his intentions. The focus is solely toward the benefit of those in need of help. The future of his program aspires to have a fully operational food truck and to make Myriad a non-profit organization. His efforts are to combat the immeasurable wealth inequality in the Bay Area, which he describes as the biggest pocket of wealth in the entire world. The inequality created is often overlooked and discarded, but his goal is to bring awareness and create leaders, not followers, within his program.
“If you don’t see yourself in it, with your name a part of it, you won’t feel like you’re a part of it. The message we are all hearing now is that we are designed to WIN.”
The tipping point Mike approached all those years ago has caused a movement that hasn’t lost momentum. However, the growing pains have noticeably grown to the point of mandatory reform. The Myriad Outreach Program now requires the work of videographers, graphic designers, photographers, website design for Mike’s project to be in full bloom. “Watering the seed, that’s what it’s all about.” he says as we finish our conversation. He puts it lightly, but I can tell there is an effort inside him that won’t quit for anything.