Our Team

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Matt st pierre

Executive Director and Co-Founder

Matt grew up on a family ranch in Merced County. He met his wife, Leah, in college at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo where he studied Business Administration. They spent 6 years in San Francisco with Matt doing faith-based community development work in the Tenderloin neighborhood. He has a Master’s of Divinity from Western Theological Seminary in Holland, MI and is an ordained minister in the Reformed Church in America. Matt’s vision for Restore Merced is to see it impact every sector of the city by helping all residents come to know their God-given dignity and worth and contribute their own unique skills and gifts toward the flourishing of the city. He believes this happens when we follow Jesus’ challenge to love our enemies, seek reconciliation and justice, and know that we are deeply loved despite our many shortcomings. Matt and Leah love living in downtown Merced with their two daughters.

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Monica Perales

Neighborhood Engagement Coordinator

A recent graduate from the University of California, Merced, Monica Perales has spent the last four years working throughout the community. She has volunteered in several elementary and middle schools across Merced County through different programs. Monica grew up in Los Angeles, but found her passion for empowering youth when she moved to Merced and began using the UC Merced Community Engagement Center, which helped connect her to classrooms full of students. To date, she has spoken to over 2,000 8th graders throughout Merced County about her family’s struggles with food insecurity, gang affiliation, and what it’s like being the only member of her immediate family to graduate from high school and hold a degree. Monica hopes to continue empowering youth across Merced County and reminding them that they can overcome any obstacle they might be facing.