Association of Farmworker Opportunity Programs
June 3, 2020
Only through Love and Justice Will We Find Peace
The Association of Farmworker Opportunity Programs (AFOP) is deeply saddened by the tragic death of yet another person of color in the United States at the hands of a government established to protect its people.
As an organization dedicated to helping the nation’s farmworkers strive to achieve their own share of the American Dream, AFOP knows only too well the obstacles that some Americans face in securing just treatment, racially, economically, and socially.
When will we as a nation ever learn that human dignity is inherent all people? When will we ever realize that it is only through understanding and respect that We the People can live in true harmony?
In these difficult and searingly painful times, AFOP urges the Nation to heed the compelling wisdom of César Chavez, the great advocate for farmworkers and poor everywhere:
“We can choose to use our lives for others to bring about a better and more just world for our children. People who make that choice will know hardship and sacrifice. But if you give yourself totally to the non-violence struggle for peace and justice, you also find that people give you their hearts and you will never go hungry and never be alone. And in giving of yourself you will discover a whole new life full of meaning and love.”
National Farmworker Jobs Program Participant Highlights
Kirby Peterson, a low-income seasonal hired-hand laborer from Cheyenne-Eagle Butte Sioux Tribe met with the National Farmworker Jobs Program (NFJP)Case Worker to discuss post-secondary education options.Poverty has loomed over this reservation for generations. Repeated attempts to create jobs have run into challenging obstacles including the isolated location; the area’s crumbling infrastructure; and a workforce in desperate need of training to name a few. Kirby wanted better.
Kirby wanted to obtain the skills and training in a career field of interest that were necessary to provide him with a good paying job and benefits. Kirby’s primary source of income had been working in the cattle industry in Eagle Butte. Due to the low unemployment rate and high level of poverty in that area, his pre-program earnings at the time of enrollment were a mere $3,268. This qualified Kirby for NFJP.
Kirby’s career goal was to obtain training in the Radiologic Technology field of study, a high demand job in the state. The NFJP staff worked collaboratively with various agencies such as Native American funding sources, Low Income Energy Assistance and the South Dakota Department of Labor and Regulation’s workforce training program to assist Kirby in reaching his goal. Kirby successfully completed his Associate of Applied Science Radiologic Technology degree at Mitchel Technical Institute in Mitchell, South Dakota. He participated in an internship at the local hospital where he was able to obtain further training. Additionally, he participated in the National Radiology Technology Conference in Orlando, Florida. At the end of April of 2017, he had another opportunity to gain more skills and experience in his field of study when he attended the South Dakota Society of Radiologic Technologists (SDSRT) in Sioux Falls. Kirby is grateful for the opportunities and resources made available to him through NFJP to reach his goal. Kirby is employed full-time at the Cheyenne River Health Center. He is enjoying his new career and looking forward to this new journey in his life. Kirby went from living in poverty earning less than $6,000 per year to earning $46,969!
Jon was a low-income farm worker, native of Corsica, SD. Throughout high school, Jon worked at a farm where he would breed sows and administer shots to the newborn piglets earning $7.25/hour. He graduated from High School in May of 2015. In the fall of 2015, Jon started school at Mitchell Technical Institute with the career goal of obtaining a degree in wind turbine technology. When asked how he came about signing up for the National Farmworker Jobs Program (NFJP), he indicated he saw an informational flyer posted at the school and decided to look further into it. Jon called the number and the case manager visited with him and determined Jon was eligible for the program.
Jon knew once he entered college, he would be financially strapped and was uncertain how he would be able to pay bills and stay in school. Signing up for the NFJP program helped Jon financially and in turn,be successful in school. Jon stated,“it was a stress reliever and it helped me focus more on my school work and grades.”
NFJP provided Jon with financial support for gas, rent, groceries, and student stipends.This assistance was a significant contributing factor in helping Jon reach his goal, graduating with high honors. Jon is now currently working at MA Mortenson Company,a wind blade repair company, earning $20 per hour and working 10 to 12 hours a day.
Jon’s five year goal is to go back to school for his bachelor’s degree in sustainable management. He wishes to one day run his own construction business and possibly own his own hog farm as well.
Oscar Ferretiz is truly a success story. He was working for Rancho Jose in Foreman Arkansas making $250.00 dollars per week, feeding chickens and repairing fences. Oscar Ferretiz pick up a flyer from Cossatot Community College of the University of Arkansas that described the National Farmworker Jobs Program (NFJP) and thought he might be eligible. Oscar contacted Arkansas Human Development Corporation (AHDC’s) Office in Hope, Arkansas, where he met AHDC Employment Specialist Maria Ramirez. Oscar’s goal was to earn a commercial driver’s license (CDL) and become a Truck Driver. After completing his application and enrolling him into the NFJP and hearing about his goals, Maria Ramirez arranged for AHDC to pay for his tuition and fees for CDL training at Cossatot Community College of the University of Arkansas in Nashville, Arkansas. According to his needs assessment, he lacked transferrable work skills and was challenged by math. He started training August 7, 2017 and completed training August 31, 2017. On September 11, 2017 Oscar Ferretiz landed employment with Buster Roberts Logging, Inc.in Dierks Arkansas. Oscar began making $15.00 an hour with benefits and working at least 40 hour per week. He is earning significantly more than what he was earning on the farm. Oscar stated, “If it wasn’t for Arkansas Human Development Corporation, I would not have been able to provide a better life for my family. AHDC helped me succeed and was with me every step. Thanks to AHDC I accomplished a lifelong goal.”