It was a beautiful morning and after a 4 hour drive and a 15 minute presentation at the South Georgia NonProfit Network Conference on 2020 Census, I drove to Tifton to meet with students from the Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College (ABAC) and talk about Hispanic Heritage Month and the work our team at the Latino Community Fund does trying to amplify the voices of diverse Latinx communities.
Ric Stewart, an Advancement Officer at the college and someone I had met through other work in immigrant communities was generous to drive me around campus explaining the different programs, the students, the vision and the work they did in the local community. Truth to be told, I would have gotten lost had Ric not been to guide me.
Then I met Nancy Carrera, a talented and passionate recruiter for the CAMP Program, a program supporting enrollment to 34 students of migrant or seasonal farm workers (or farm workers themselves). This federally funded program also provides assistance through mentorship and financial aid and requires that students do community service. The catch is that the program only supports US permanent resident or citizens and it only supports students for one year. After one year, Nancy shared with me, students are on their own, and need to raise dollars or need to apply other scholarship opportunities through local foundations or the college.
While Nancy was sharing the number of ways students are supported by their program, I could not help but look around her office and see the many Frida Kahlo dolls, the “Si Se Puede” slogan front and centered in her shelf, the “Never Give Up” reminder that her work, was a marathon, it was not a sprint and certainly was not easy. Nancy shared her love for Frida (which was also as a screensaver in her computer) and when I asked: how could we be helpful, Nancy was quick to say:
“We just need to know that more people care about South Georgia.”
And yes, Nancy needs to know that. The students need to know that, the parents need to know that, the workers need to know that, Ric Stewart needs to know that and frankly the local community needs to know that yes, Latinx are here to stay simply because we are and have always been part of the very fabric of South Georgia. The difference is that we can no longer remain invisible.
South Georgia has relied for decades on the tireless work of migrant and seasonal workers, those workers, their families, and children need respect, dignity, investments and opportunities.
As the college explores ways to be supportive of first-generation students, a group of local advocates has started ABAC Familia, a program dedicated to providing additional scholarships and support to DACA, undocumented and first-generation student under the ABAC Foundation, a 501 c 3 organization.
LCF Georgia is back next week to visit with them again and learn more about work and to explore ways we can be supportive of the initiative.
These are the faces of the ABAC CAMP students in 2019.
Also, turns out Nancy is also an artist that incorporates her talent in her job. This is a piece she painted. She will be writing the names of each student that they are able to help in each colorful dot. She wants to be able to cover the entire wall of her office with names of children of migrant and seasonal workers or migrant workers themselves.