Dear Friends of Farmworkers,
Five years ago we established a distribution shed in Watsonville behind a crowded apartment building. We stock the shed with some of the basic necessities of life that farmworkers simply cannot afford. Specifically, we provide diapers in all sizes, baby wipes, paper towels, toilet paper, shampoo, bath soap, laundry detergent and dish washing detergent. We also stock the shed with good quality used adult and children’s second-hand clothing.
Over the years, the shed and parking area in front have become a central meeting location for the Oaxacan farmworker community. The farmworker woman that manages the shed posts flyers of upcoming events that impact the community. There is a constant exchange of information about the best farms to work for, where to go for health care, and events that will take place at the shed involving community members. Currently, more than 40 families with variable numbers of children visit the Watsonville shed monthly. The families consider the donation of necessary items so important that those who frequent the shed travel from as far away as Castroville, Salinas, Los Baños, and Las Lomas. The only requirement for receipt of donations is that the recipient is a farmworker. The shed and environs have truly become a site for socializing and information exchange that unifies the community in what to farmworkers is a foreign land, the United States.
A variety of recurring activities and programs have become established at the shed including the following:
- English classes for Farmworkers
- UCSC Alternative Spring Break- A UCSC Alternative Spring Break (ASB) class in which more than 25 students learn about the lives of farmworkers and the changes necessary for farmworkers to live a decent, socially just life.
- A “Shopping Trip” to a Boutique -A group of girl scouts from San Jose, California puts on a monthly boutique for teenage farmworker girls who are in school. They reason that if the girls feel good about the way they are dressed at school, they will work harder and have a greater chance of academic success. Their assumption is correct. Recent report cards for many of the girls indicate maximum participation in their school’s activities and classes with resulting high grades. The girls are fitted with fashionable donated clothing; much of it brand new. A portable dressing room and mirrors are provided. As the girls go from one rack of clothes to another and select the clothes that they want to wear, the clothes are folded and added to a “shopping bag.” Each girl leaves with her “shopping bag” full of new clothes for her new wardrobe, as if she went on a shopping trip. However, all clothing is provided free of charge.
- Free Flea Markets (Tianguis Gratis) -Several times per year we collect so many donations from generous community members that we sponsor a free flea market in front of the shed. Everyone in the farmworker community is invited to come to the free flea market and choose the items that they need. Items range from furniture to clothing to kitchen utensils to toys for children.
- Meditation Classes- Beginning in late spring, a bilingual meditation teacher from a Palo Alto meditation center will teach meditation classes for interested farmworkers. She will offer the classes once a week at no charge.
- Tutoring-Children who are doing poorly in school can arrange to meet a UCSC student tutor at the shed who will tutor them on a variety of subjects with the goal of promoting academic interest and educational success.
The Center for Farmworker Families is entirely dependent upon individual donations from concerned community members who want their donations to be used to improve the lives of farmworkers. Recently, we have encountered a shortfall of funds with which to restock the shed. We want to do everything possible to maintain the steady flow of farmworker families to the shed so we can help improve their lives. We also want to maintain our programs at the shed; described above.
We stock the shed at the beginning of every month. If we can no longer afford to stock the shed in the future, the community unity established at the site to date may become fractured and fragmented. Since so many of the poorest Oaxacan farmworkers are beneficiaries of our donations and programs, we want to continue to stock the shed with needed items. With your assistance, we can make it happen!
Please consider making a tax-deductible donation to Center for Farmworker Families so that we can continue to serve the farmworker community.
Thank-you ahead of time for your kindness and generosity,
Dr. Ann López, DirectorCenter for Farmworker Families