Local organizers say more than $3000 in funds, as well as donations of food, clothing, and personal protective equipment that were collected during a special event held in honor of César Chávez Day have now been distributed.
Sarah Casia, one of the event coordinators and a labor organizer with SEIU 2015, a local branch of Service Employees International, says two distribution events were held in May, the first in Anderson and the second in McArthur.
She says both events were well attended by farm workers and their families who were given new hoodies, boxes of food, water bottles, ball caps, bandanas, socks and much more. But among the many items distributed, Casia says, one was the clear favorite. “The most popular items by far were the soccer balls,” Casia says, “the kids loved them!”
Millie Martinez works with Vision y Compromiso, an international organization dedicated to improving the health and well-being of underrepresented communities. She says her organization also participated in these distribution events, by helping individuals access medical coverage through MediCal. Vision y Compromiso can also connect people with MediCare and Covered California as well as related services, like CalFresh and CalWorks.
There are more than 4,000 Promotores and health workers that are part of Vision y Compromiso’s network across California. The group calls Promotores like Martinez “highly trained community experts and trusted members of their communities, characterized by servicio de corazon (service from the heart.)” They say Promotores educate and advocate to reduce barriers to health education and services in ways that are sensitive to cultural and linguistic needs.
Martinez says she felt proud to participate in the distribution events for local farm worker families. She emphasized that the services of Vision y Compromiso are available to all community members and encouraged individuals seeking help with healthcare access to contact her at [email protected]
Casia says Shasta County Public Health also facilitated access to vaccinations at the events. A representative from HHS has not yet responded to a request for comment.
Farm worker families were full of thanks for the provision of goods and services, Casia reports, but at the end of the day it was hard to determine who felt more grateful, those giving out supplies or those receiving them.
“One thankful woman made us fresh Jamaica tea,” Casia explained, saying how satisfying the experience was to participate in, “while another invited us into her home for a meal.”
Her sentiment about the benefit received by organizers as well as farm workers aligns with the goals of one of the original event organizers, Shasta County Mutual Aid, whose work is based on principles of solidarity, community and support. They say, “We believe everyone has something to share, just as everyone has something they need.” Other organizers of the event included the Democratic Central Committee of Shasta County, Shasta County Democratic Women’s Club, and KIXE.
The César Chávez Day celebration was originally suggested by the Shasta Beloved Community. César Chávez, a Mexican-American, dedicated his life to the cause of agricultural employees, working to improve their labor conditions and their lives. He founded the labor union now known as United Farm Workers of America.
Casia says the organizers hope to make the César Chávez Day celebration an annual event in Shasta County and will also work to expand the event into Glenn and Tehama counties.