Los Angeles Armed with little more than pen and pad, ACORN organizer David Mazariegos hits inner-city streets to save his embattled employer rather than his usual mission of saving homes from foreclosure.
Mazariegos approaches Jose and Maria Rodriguez on their patio surrounded by overflowing potted plants and a Virgin of Guadelupe statue and asks if they would speak at a news conference about how ACORN saved their house.
Maria Rodriguez doesn’t hesitate.
“The only people who helped us were ACORN. We tried to negotiate with the bank, but they wouldn’t listen,” she says. “We paid $5,000 to a company to help us fix the loan. They took the money and didn’t do anything.”
As the nonprofit strives to survive the worst scandal in its 39-year history — videotapes of staffers counseling a faux pimp and prostitute how to run a brothel — the organization is doing what it does best: mobilizing low-income people. In this case, the goal is to restore the organization’s credibility.
The mobilization effort is unfolding on several fronts. People like Rodriguez are being asked to speak up about how ACORN saved them. She and her husband also agreed to work a phone bank and bring five new people to the next community meeting. And ACORN officials say people are donating more money as they rally to the organization’s defense.
“The truth is it broke my heart,” Mazariegos said of the scandal. “But it doesn’t faze me. It was just a couple people who did this, not the organization.”