In Loving Memory of
En la Memoria Amorosa de

Mario Ernesto Martinez

Leader, Coworker, Friend
Lider, Compañero de Trabajo, Amigo

Mario Martinez began working the Harbor Area Gang Alternatives Program (GAP) in 1997 as a graffiti cleanup crew supervisor. He was one of only six employees at the time and was the junior member of the staff.

In 2000, GAP had a new executive director who saw the amazing potential that Mario possessed. Together they set out to create a new GAP to serve more people and make the Harbor Area the best example of effective graffiti abatement. Mario was promoted to Graffiti Removal Manager. Operation Clean Sweep (OCS) was so impressed with GAP’s improvement that it added new areas to GAP’s service area, including Boyle Heights.

Mario was diligent about improving himself as well as his department. He earned his Bachelor of Business Administration and his C-33 Contractor’s License. He put extra effort into professionalizing his English language skills, and he soon mastered writing and speaking in English equal to his native El Salvador Spanish. At the culmination of his degree, GAP provided him with a graduation celebration to mark his impressive accomplishments.

When GAP reorganized as it grew larger, Mario was the named Director of Community Cleanup. The Office of Community Beautification (OCB – formerly OCS) continued to be impressed with his department’s performance, and over the next several years, Watts, South LA, and Downtown LA were added to GAP’s graffiti abatement and cleanup duties. GAP also added contracts with LA County during this time and expanded to four warehouse locations throughout the country.

Mario attended multiple events representing GAP, provided community awareness and training, worked with several divisions of LAPD  and LASD, and eventually led a group of over thirty workers. With the help of well-trained assistant directors and managers, Mario created an efficient and respected department that elevated the entire organization, formed the backbone of its fiscal strength, and provided best-of-class service to the people and communities it served.

Mario passed away on Monday, May 6, 2019. He was the longest-serving member of the GAP staff, and his legacy will live on for many years to come. He will be desperately mourned and missed, what all of those who worked with him count it a privilege to have known and him to share his friendship.

Gracias, amigo. Descanza en paz.