2004-05-19 The Lakeshore Press Grant expands program

Grant expands program
Lakeshore Press

The Lakeshore Ethnic Diversity Alliance will expand its migrant mentoring program into the Holland area, thanks to a grant from the Community Foundation of the Holland/Zeeland Area. The financial support will allow LEDA to triple the number of children from Holland area migrant camps can be matched with community Volunteers for social mentoring. The program is designed to build bridges between the community and Ottawa County’s migrant population, who come to the area for short-term farm work.

Mentors meet with the migrant child they are matched with at least once a week from March to December to provide social outings and academic support. Last year, the program served 36 migrant children, 12 of whom were in the Holland area. Forty mentoring matches are expected this year.

Ottawa County ranks third in the state for agricultural production. More than 6,000 migrant workers, most of them Mexican-American, come to Ottawa County for seasonal work annually. Children of migrant workers typically encounter many obstacles, including education disruptions, limited English proficiency, and physical and social isolation.

Anyone interested in becoming a migrant mentor is urge to call Gail Harrison at (616) 846-9074 or e-mail LEDA@ethnicdiversity.org