Tag Archives: “day worker”

“Secure Communities” S-COMM: Es seguro para nuestra comunidad latina?

10 Feb

Photo by linear85

El Dia 28 de Enero se dio un gran paso para la reinvidicacion de los derechos civiles especialmente para la comunidad latina. Ese dia se reunio una gran multitud en la catedral de San Francisco, California. Fueron aproximadamente 2000 personas venidas de diferentes organizaciones pro-inmigrantes y defensores de los derechos civiles del area de la bahia tales como PICO–PIA. (People Improving Communities through Organizing/Peninsula Interfaith Action).

Esta accion fue en protesta contra el programa federal llamado S-COMM “Comunidades Seguras” que se quiere aplicar al estado de California. Que con su sutil nombre es abiertamente un programa anti-inmigrante usado por ICE para la deportacion y separacion de familias de nuestra comunidad latina. Este programa funcionaria asi: la policia local aprovechando el perfil racial solicitaria documentos a las personas para verificiar su estado migratorio y al verificar que es una persona indocumentada. Esta seria detendida y derivada al departamento de ICE para su proceso inmediato de deportacion, accion injusta y cruel.

Fue grata mi sorpresa al saber que muchas autoridades religiosas de San Francisco como el arzobispo Niederauer apoyan nuestra causa justa y nuestras voces de protesta han sido y seran escuchadas. !!!!SEGUIMOS EN LA LUCHA!!!!

Photo by linear85 on wordpress

On January 28th, a big step was taken towards the reinstatement of civil rights, especially for the latin community. On this day, a large group met in the cathedral in San Francisco, California. Approximately 2,000 people came from different pro-immigration organizations and groups that defend civil rights throughout the Bay Area such as PICO-PIA (People Improving Communities through Organizing/Peninsula Interfaith Action).

This meeting was to protest the federal program called S-COMM “Secure Communities” that was approved by the state of California. With its subtle name it’s actually an openly anti-immigration program used by ICE to deport and separate families from our community. The program works like this: the local police take advantage of racial profiling to ask for documentation from people to verify their legal status and check if they are undocumented. Then they would be detained by ICE and begin the immediate process of deportation, an injust and cruel response.

To my great suprise, many religious from San Francisco like the Archbishop Niederauer supported our just cause and our voices of protest were heard and will continue to be heard. !!!!SEGUIMOS EN LA LUCHA!!!!


A Day Worker’s Letter to My 16 Year Old Self

10 Feb

In our writing class at the Day Worker Center, we wrote a letter to the person we were when we were 16 years old. This one is from Jacqueline to herself. The English version is below the Spanish.

Siempre estuvo en mi mente
Cuando yo contaba con la edad de 16 años, me encontraba viviendo en México—en el ceno familiar, con mi padre, madre y hermanos, todos juntos en la casa de la familia. Recuerdo que mi padre nos dio escuela a todos a unos más y otros menos pero siempre nos la dio. Nunca imaginé a esa edad que yo podría vivir en los E.E.U.U. y tampoco hablar otro idioma como es el Ingles. Siempre estuvo en mi mente y en mi corazón ser una persona diferente con un poco de calidad humana para poder ser de influencia a otras personas, para un cambio a favor de la humanidad. Estuvo en mi mente ser enfermera, pero nunca lo traté. Siempre estuvo en mi mente ser diferente y no seguir la típica tradición, o al menos ser una persona de cambios.

When I was 16 years old, I found myself living in Mexico, with the family unit—my father, mother and siblings, all together in the house. I remember that my father provided for everyone—some more than others but he always gave us our education. I never imagined at this age that I could one day live in the U.S. or speak another language such as English. It was always in my mind and in my heart to be a different person with more human warmth, to be able to influence other people, to make changes that benefit humanity. I wanted to be a nurse, but I never tried it. However, it was always in my mind to be different and not follow the typical tradition, or at the very least be a vehicle for change.

It Just Takes Practice

24 Mar

I am continually amazed how spending time with the workers at the Day Worker Center challenges me to rethink my opinions and see things in a new light.

For example, let’s take a look at one young man I’ll call Ricardo. He looks like one of those tough guys with his beanie and hoodie covering part of his face. He tends to have headphones in most of the time, and generally looks like someone you wouldn’t want to meet in a dark alley. But what some people don’t know about Ricardo is that he’s very artistic. He’s been accepted into art school and would like to go if they give him financial aid. I caught a glimpse of him the other day helping some of the kids who come to the center with art projects. He knows how to fold beautiful paper flowers, and evidence of his works lies concealed in small corners or tiny vases around the center.

Or how could I forget how Edy, when I told him I didn’t know how to dance, taught me cumbia there on the spot. “Es facil,” he told me. And it turned out that it was easy. We danced to the music on someone’s portable speakers, much to the amusement of those around us.

Lastly, I think of Andres, a handyman who does all kinds of labor. But he also helps with sewing projects. One volunteer named Naomi comes in every so often to help orchestrate art projects in general; the latest thing has been helping sew patches for a beautiful quilt. The patches themselves are quite impressive, but the quilt as a whole is stunning. Andres was talking about how he learned some English from a friend, but that it still took a lot of effort for him to advance. I told him that it just took practice and that he would get it eventually. When the conversation eventually turned back to the current project, he asked me if I sew. I told him I didn’t. “Por que?” he asked me. Lots of reasons, but the main one was that I just didn’t like it, it took too much time, and I get frustrated.

“It just takes practice. Practice and you’ll get it eventually.” Who knew that I would get my words thrown back at me?

Day Workers and ESL Teacher Learn a Lesson about Stereotypes

30 Jan

Last week, near the end of a two hour class, the students were grammar-ed out. I still had fifteen minutes before the end of class and I found myself telling my students about my upcoming trip to Pakistan.

A flood of questions followed. Would I be wearing a…they gestured to their faces, making a window around their eyes.

A burqua, no.

Would I be wearing a…they circled their head with their hands.

A hijab, no.

I drew on the board my wardrobe options, the traditional shalwar kameez, a baggy pant and shirt outfit. I tried explaining that the burqua and hijab are traditional outfits worn by Muslims, and that I wasn’t one.

This prompted another student to ask, are you uncomfortable with our questions? I smiled. No, I explained. Are you offended by them? No, I said. I like talking about these things, they help me create awareness and understanding.

He was thoughtful. You know, he said, when people see us they make assumptions. He didn’t elaborate, he didn’t have to. That’s why I talk about it, I said. To break those stereotypes. He nodded. He liked this.

In the very next breath, another student joked, will you bring me back seven wives.

And there we have it. Those cultural stereotypes, our way of seeing a whole group of people in this very “lowest common denominator” way seems to be the norm these days. We jump to those stereotyped images right away. Which was why at the same time as someone lamented on being stereotyped as day worker, someone else jumped to another culture’s stereotype.

My own preconceived notions are broken every day that I volunteer at the Day Worker’s Center. I now see not a group but individuals, individuals who, through the resources offered to them at the Center, are doing their best to make the most of things. Ruben can always be found scribbling furiously into his notebook words that have similar meanings: slink, crawl, creep, snake. It is my job to explain (or more often mime) the subtle differences. Mauricio very shyly shows me pictures of himself dressed up in a suit and tie, playing guitar with his church band on the weekends. And Ana’s toddler, Anavaleria, chants the ABCs right along with the rest of the class, her voice often rising confidently above other people’s.

I knew working at the Center would allow me to give back to my community. I didn’t expect it to give back to me as profoundly as it does.


My experience with day workers at the Dayworker Center of Mountain View

29 Jan

Challenges but Success

Years ago, I started using the Day Worker Center after I tried to use high school students for yardwork not typically done by ‘mow and blow’ vendors. I needed bushes removed, other bushes to be heavily trimmed, and flower beds turned over.

After much difficulty in sourcing the high school students from the local high school (repeated calls yielding tepid support by staff), two 17-year old, strapping members of the football team, we got started. After about an hour of heavy work, they both asked to stop working as the work was too hard. Left with the tasks to complete, I turned to the Day Worker Center.

As I was driving over, I wondered about who these day workers were and whether they were trustworthy. My wife insisted that if I did hire a worker, that I be around the house.

With minimal fuss, I hired two workers and rode back to my house to begin work. I explained, more so showed, what I needed to have done, and the two men started working. Within two hours, all the bushes including digging out the roots had been removed assuring that the oleander

Pesky oleander

would not grow back.

They then asked for the tools to trim the bushes. This took a few moments as neither they or nor I knew what the tools’ names were in Spanish.

I quickly showed them how I wanted the bushes trimmed and off they went to work. They trimmed the bushes and even asked for a composting bin to place the trimmed branches in—something the high school kids never thought to ask about.

They also turned the garden beds after some instruction.

By the end of the morning, the work had been done. I provided them some water—they didn’t even ask. They did ask to wash their hands. Once we put away the tools, they thought to clean their shoes before getting back in my car. I paid them and drove them back the Center.

That single experience convinced me to use the Day Worker Center for our yard work. I fired our ‘mow and blow’ gardener and now, two houses later, continue to use them for all manner of garden work.