Evicted farmworkers get some reliefBy JEANINE GORE, Half Moon Bay Review
Every once in awhile Mike Niece's phone rings and something remarkable happens.
the other end of the line waits someone with offerings of clothes,
food, diapers, money - whatever is needed - to make life easier for the
family of Mexican immigrants and their newborn baby temporarily living
in Niece's home.
In a heartwarming gesture of concern, one local
woman recently dropped off a brand new stroller as a gift to the
"It's really neat," said Niece, who under the
nonprofit auspices of the Catholic Worker provides temporary shelter
for locals in need.
"This is just a huge relief for me that those folks have a roof over their heads."
similar signs of support have been trickling in elsewhere to help the
10 farmworkers and their families left without shelter or employment
after being evicted July 21 from their home on Gary Marchi's Pescadero
A relief fund created two weeks ago for the workers
already has raised about $825, said the Rev. Wendy Taylor of Puente
Ministries in Pescadero.
Taylor called the money "a blessing" and
is working to raise at least $5,000 through donations or a government
grant, which will tide over the farmworkers and their families until
they can find permanent jobs and housing.
The money will be used for rent, food, medical transportation, utilities and diapers among other things, Taylor said.
years before they lost their jobs, the Mexican laborers were living
with their families on Marchi's property and working in his fields,
tending the Swiss chard and fava bean crops.
received little in the form of payment, the farmer provided them with
free housing and monthly stipends of $100 to $200. For these reasons
they remained quiet and somewhat contented.
However, in February
the lease on Marchi's land was terminated, leaving the penniless
workers with nowhere to live and no money to pay for a move.
the first two weeks of July, with the eviction deadline looming, the
workers finally scrambled to find housing, though little was available.
Four laborers have no homes and are camping out.
One man sent his
loved ones back to Mexico because they had nowhere to stay. Another
family packed up its car and headed for the Central Valley.
in a holding pattern essentially," Taylor said, referring to the
precarious state of the families' lives. "It's just about finding jobs,
money and housing at this point."
The farmworkers estimate
Marchi, who declared bankruptcy in 2002, owes them $175,000
collectively in back pay and are seeking legal counsel to recover at
least a portion of the money.
A second meeting with a lawyer is tentatively scheduled for Thursday evening in Pescadero.
donate to Magdalene House, call 726-6606. To give to the farmworker
fund, send checks made out to Puente PCC fund to P.O. Box 791,
Pescadero, CA 94060 with an enclosed memo: relocation emergency funds.