Every year, Texas sends out more migrant farmworkers across the country than any other state. Because of the large farmworker population, the state of Texas, specifically the Rio Grande Valley, is given millions of dollars to provide services to this vulnerable community. Getting the word out on the array of services available to farmworkers, though, can be a challenge to outreach workers. Farmworkers many times live in rural areas and often have limited fountains of information.
AFOP’s Children in the Fields Campaign was asked to partner with Workforce Solutions and the University of Texas-Pan American to host the Venga al “PAN DULCE” Conference 2010, a resource fair designed to provide all of the information that many migrant seasonal farm working families need but rarely have access to all in one place. “PAN DULCE” is an acronym for Padres Atendiendo Nuestros Derechos Unidos con La Comunidad y Educación, meaning parents attending to our rights united with the community and education. It is with this belief that the conference was created – all farmworker parents have the right to the resources in the community in order to ensure their families are taken care of and getting educated.
The conference took place this past Saturday at the University of Texas-Pan American campus in Edinburg, Texas. Farmworker families were provided with transportation from Workforce Solutions centers across the counties of Hidalgo, Starr and Willacy County. Hundreds of parents, along with their families, visited the information booths and were addressed by a list of great speakers, including UTPA’s President Dr. Robert S. Nelson, Workforce Solution’s CEO Bonnie Gonzalez and Ronny Cabrera, an award-winning teacher that has inspired educators across the state. After showing AFOP’s Children in the Fields DVD, I was given the opportunity to address the migrant families and children too.
No “Pan Dulce” Conference would be complete without plenty of food, especially pan dulce, which is sweet bread often eaten with coffee at get-togethers in the Latino community. Breakfast, lunch and afternoon snacks were provided to everyone and lots of great prizes were given away, including much-needed backpacks for all of the children filled with school supplies.
The conference was concluded with a special guest – Tejano music legend and former migrant farmworker Roberto Pulido. He shared his story with the migrant families and performed his music hits with the help of his daughter.
Many smiling faces were seen throughout the crowds and after the close of the event, many parents shared with me their satisfaction with the event. AFOP’s Children in the Fields Campaign is dedicated to serving the farmworker families and look forward to bringing back this event in the coming years.