It is hot in New Mexico. I know from experience: last week, I had the opportunity to observe a Proyecto Sol, heat stress prevention training at the HELP, New Mexico offices in Albuquerque. These trainings are particularly important for individuals working in the fields. I have been fortunate to observe a number of heat stress trainings over the course of the past year, but this training was special for two reasons: first, rumor had it that one of the HELP, New Mexico trainers had written a song about heat stress prevention. Second, HELP, New Mexico was going to be hosting a very special guest at this particular training. The guest was none other than the Secretary of Labor, Hilda Solis.
The rumor about the song was, in fact true. And the HELP New Mexico trainers, Roni Spetalnick, Victor Cabrera, and Debi Lopez, showcased their creative talents, using interactive training techniques and their sing-along to educate farmworkers and colleagues about the hazards of heat in the fields. Secretary Solis entered in the middle of the training, providing comments and listening through a few verses of the song.
During the visit, Rita Garcia McManus, Director of HELP’s Workforce Development Division and John Martinez, Executive Director of HELP, were able to share comments about the work that they do, on both health and safety and employment training and services. Workplace safety and job training go hand-in-hand. The visit by the Secretary was an opportunity for HELP, New Mexico to showcase their work on both fronts, demonstrating how important AFOP agencies are for farmworkers throughout the country.
The Secretary underscored the importance of the work that HELP, New Mexico does, providing the following remarks: “The work that you all are doing, the training that you are going through, and the assistance we are able to give, as small as it might be, to me, these are the shining stars. These are the shining moments when I feel that government is doing its best—that it’s really touching people’s lives and that’s what I’m about.” Fortunately, that’s what AFOP and HELP, New Mexico are all about too.