Oakland dad hopes to ignite change and spread knowledge in his hometown community

There’s nothing more important to Marrio than his family; their unbreakable bond has carried him through the toughest of times. They’re his rock, the source of his strength and his hope. 

It was family that supported Marrio after the back-to-back deaths of his parents. Then three years later they guided and uplifted him after his younger sister died. The support of his wife and children was pivotal for Marrio as he went through the process to adopt his sister’s then 8-year-old daughter. 

His niece is 15 years old now, taller than him, and she excels in basketball and academics. “She's an honor roll student. Been on honor roll the entire time she's been in school,” Marrio said proudly. 

The father of six adores playdates at home with his granddaughter. And he’s looking forward to becoming “Pop-Pop” a second time; the newest addition to the family is due any day now.   

Marrio’s memories of his Oakland, California hometown stretch back more than 50 years. He remembers the hustle and bustle of the former industry town that had factories like Mother’s Cookies, Granny Goose potato chips, Caterpillar construction equipment and General Motors. 

He vividly recalls how hard the community was hit when those factories started shutting down in the 1980s. Many of Marrio’s neighbors lost their jobs, and financial instability soon followed. “When you started taking all the jobs and stuff from people, they turned to something to try to relieve their stress,” he said.

Those memories shape Marrio’s present reality as a lifelong Oaklander. Some of the shuttered factories and businesses have been redeveloped, but the rising cost of housing and basic living  makes it incredibly difficult for many people to afford to stay in Oakland. 

Despite that, Marrio wants people to check their perceptions when it comes to how they think people who live with limited incomes should be accustomed to living – and what they should be okay with tolerating. “[They think] we can put up with crime… that we deal with it better than the ‘regular people’,” he shared.

Marrio is invested in seeing the Oakland community he loves, thrive. One of his long term goals is to partner with a local organization to launch an outreach program. It would focus on educating people about the intricacies of the legal system, with the aim of helping them avoid legal issues he faced when he defended himself from an alleged robber. 

“I want to start speaking to people to enlighten them about what can happen to you if you break the law. A lot of people don't know exactly what happens to them when they get caught. I'm like an encyclopedia when it comes to getting messed over in the wrong things to do,” he said. “They had a pipeline to prison when I was growing up. And it wasn't by accident. I believe what's going on right now, isn't by accident,” he continued. Marrio’s convinced that sharing his experiences and insights can make a big difference, even if he reaches “just one or two” people. “My information is going to guide them. I could be a valued commodity in my community,” he said hopefully. 

Marrio is one of 600 individuals who received $500 monthly cash investments for 18 months through the Oakland Resilient Families Guaranteed Income Fund. “That money came in handy as far as food, bills, and even extra stuff for the kids,” he said. Marrio also shared some of his cash investments with close friends and family members – his core “community”.  

He firmly believes in investing in people, rather than relying solely on systems and programs that can sometimes hinder their growth.

“We're here. We’re right here. We’re incurring this. There's nobody that this is affecting more than the people right here.”

His journey reminds us that when people have the resources and support they need, they can make choices that positively impact their lives and the lives of their loved ones.

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