Tamale fundraiser helps migrant workers
This month every year, 700 to 800 migrant workers, many of them from Mexico, travel with work visas to work in Palisade’s orchards and vineyards, looking for a better quality of life for themselves and their families.
The harvest of fruits and vegetables from the Grand Valley’s 2,400 acres of farmland is valued at some $60 million.
As a way to give thanks for the hands that harvest local foods, volunteers with Child and Migrant Services are making tamales to sell as a fundraiser.
“By sharing the tamales, we really hope to get the word out about what we do,” said Christine Mok-Lamme, executive director of the nonprofit organization. “We want to share this rich culture and the good food.”
Child and Migrant Services celebrates its 55th anniversary next year. The organization was founded at a time when treatment of migrant workers in the United States was poor.
The group’s Hospitality Center, 721 Peach Ave., is often the only link many migrants have to talk with others who speak Spanish and to receive a hot meal. Workers can unwind after a long day and socialize at the center or play games. They may attend Mass, get help with basic health needs, take a hot shower, and get assistance with translating and transportation. The group offers housing for up to 88 workers, provides referrals for health care needs and can help coordinate emergency assistance.
Unlike other industries affected by a languishing economy, growers anticipate the local agriculture work to remain stable, Mok-Lamme said. Demand for workers lasts through the winter for orchard and vineyard maintenance needs.
Besides Mexico, workers come from countries such as Taiwan and Japan to work locally. Most people aren’t aware of the diversity of people who help make the local economy thrive, Mok-Lamme said.
“If someone likes to help us, we welcome people in the community who want to help make tamales,” she said. “We want to start thinking how we can help get more people involved.”