In a neighborhood that quickly boarded up and felt abandoned by the end of March, it was hard not to wonder what would happen to the Mission District’s large immigrant population. Nannies, construction workers, and small business operators were either unemployed or venturing out to grocery stores, construction sites, or gig economy jobs, praying that they did not bring the virus home. The Mission District’s social service agencies went into action, calling their clients to check-in, but their physical storefronts shuttered. One morning I watched a couple knocking on the door of one of the agencies. I explained that the social workers had to take calls from home, that they should use the number posted prominently on the front door. But we want to see someone, one of them said. I explained again why that was impossible. When I left, they were still standing outside, peering in, waiting. That image stayed with me. I wondered what would happen to so many people in need. And then walking one day on 20th Street, I followed a line of immigrants with shopping carts to a truck on Alabama Street. Boxes of food were being loaded off to hand out to the people in line. I asked who was in charge. The Latino Task Force. In the weeks that followed, that was a name I would run into everywhere – not in constant press releases, as they had no time for that – but in the street. Working. I continued to see its workers at the Alabama Food Hub where the line grew week by week. I ran into its volunteers going door to door in mid-April to talk to Mission residents about participating in a COVID-testing study with UCSF. I met them later at the testing sites. In mid-June, a wide-open door at 701 Alabama St. led to a large airy room where experts in housing, medicine, and other resources met clients “cara a cara” to fill out applications for unemployment claims, housing, food stamps, and other benefits. And by the second week in July, the Latino Task Force had convinced the city to add a mobile testing site at the Resource Hub – a testing site that opened Thursday to some 200 people waiting to be tested. The city’s Latinos, it turned out, had not been abandoned. Instead, at a time when gentrification seemed to blunt the power of Latino activists, the Latino Task Force is demonstrating how years of training, deep roots, and savvy leadership can muster a force that has been more visible than any city agency. It is a child of the pandemic, but the task force is led by people who have been activists since the 1970s. It’s clear now that all of their life experience — even their early years as low-riders and dirt bike enthusiasts, as parents raising families in the Mission and especially as political hellraisers — prepared them for precisely this moment in time. And they’ve found they are up to it, to a degree that has surprised even them. “It’s hard to explain how this happened so quickly,” said Valerie Tulier-Laiwa, who now works with the Public Utilities Commission, and is one of six members — one man and five women – on the task force’s executive committee. “There is a Mission way of doing things,” she says and pauses, trying to explain what that means before she finally concludes, “We get things done.” Tulier-Laiwa and her colleagues ought to know about the Mission way. Over the past four decades and change, most have alighted at all the signposts on that route: San Francisco State University, the Mission mural programs for youth in the 1980s, RAP (an alternative high school of the 1990s), Loco Bloco, Carnaval, the Beacon After School program, Mission Girls, and the Mission Peace Collaborative. And while some of those efforts are ancient history, the time spent at each formed values and friendships that endure. The elders have perpetuated their legacy by mentoring a younger generation, some of whom have joined the task force today. What’s more, many of these longtime Latinx activists now hold government posts. They are no longer on the outside looking in, but making a difference from the inside.