1999-04-16 Grand Haven Tribune "Thanks to all who help aid migrant workers"

Thanks to all who help aid migrant workers

Grand Haven Tribune

To the Editor:

The North Ottawa Ethnic Diversity Alliance is an organization dedicated to reducing barriers between people of different ethnic backgrounds and increasing appreciation for cultural diversity.

A major effort of this group has been to help develop a sense of community and inclusiveness for the migrant families that come to work here each year. In keeping with this goal, the Diversity Alliance requested the participation of local churches and organizations to assist in providing a warm welcome to the migrant families as they returned late this winter.

The migrant families come to our community with nothing more than they can transport in their vehicles. Most of the migrants have been out of work for several months preceding their return and earn very low wages upon resuming their labor. Consequently, the ability of these people to afford the basic necessities for re-entry into the community is severely limited. Through the generosity of the participating churches and groups, many families will start this growing season with some of those needs met.

The returning migrant families were provided welcoming packages filled with basic items needed to establish re-entry, such as winter outerwear, blankets and food staples. Sports equipment was donated for placement at the migrant camps, which provided the children with the opportunity to play basketball, volleyball, baseball and other games. Day passes to the YMCA, as well as swim lessons for the migrant children are also in the works. Money raised by some of the area churches is being used to expand recreational opportunities at the camps.

It is with a deep sense of appreciation that I extend thanks to those collaborating in this effort: Rev. Larry Jackson, Second Reformed Church, Christ Community Church, Edgewood Lutheran Church, United Methodist Church of the Dunes, Hope Reformed Church, St. Antony's Catholic Church, St. Pat's Catholic Church, Lupe Cortez of GHAPSD, the YMCA and Crossroads Recovery Program. A special thanks to Mary Mitchell, whose participation was critical to the success of this project.

Upon receiing some needed supplies, a migrant mother explained, "I liek this Grand Haven community because the community likes to share and help. When the (migrant) people need things, the community provides. Everything you bring, they give. It is good people." Thanks to each of your being "good people" and fostering a community that shares.