Archive | July, 2011

Steph- Collecting Data

20 Jul

This past week Grace and I collected A LOT of data, with the help of some awesome CIF volunteers of course. We needed to know how many workers generally wait for work, how many get hired, and how many employers hire workers. So Grace, several volunteers, and I all hung out on the street corner for several days in the past week and counted. We need to be able to compare this data to the data we’ll have about employment when the center opens, that way we’ll know how to improve and how well the center is working.

We also have been gearing up for two amazing events this weekend. The first is a community soccer game that is collective effort between GMU and CIF. Twenty foreign exchange students will be coming from Colombia, Venezuela, and Ecuador  to visit the US and learn from community members about what it is like to be an immigrant here in the United States. On Saturday they’ll be playing soccer with members of the Centreville community, of course both immigrant and native born Americans are invited.

The next day, Sunday will also be the day of Wellspring’s Spanish and English bilingual services as well as ESL class, which the students will hopefully be free to experience.

Grace — Project Updates

14 Jul

Exciting things have been happening over the past few weeks!  To name a few, we’ve made plans for the Centreville Labor Resource Center opening receptions, worked on a new Centreville Immigration Forum website, hosted a workers’ meeting to discuss questions and concerns in the jornalero community, created an advertising scheme for Wellspring, met with professional fundraisers in Washington DC to connect with potential donors, and have been collecting data on the street to provide a measure of progress/ success when the Labor Resource Center opens.

The most important thing I’ve learned to do this summer is to work with a partner as a single unit.  Stephanie and I share an unshakable solidarity in our efforts.  It’s hard to believe we only have one month left here in Centreville!  We love this job and agree it’s the best we’ve ever had.  As we approach the end we hope to maintain our momentum and preserve the presence of Centreville Immigration Forum in the day laborer community.

I hope to remember to post more frequent updates in this last few weeks.  Keep reading and enjoy the summer.

Steph- Fundraising!

12 Jul

Last week Grace and I had the opportunity to experience something new. We met with two members of an organization that helps raise funds for progressive causes! They normally raise money for very large organizations who budgets that consist of millions of dollars, not small ones like the Centreville Immigration Forum. So to them, the $50,000 we need to fundraise seems like nothing. Their office was located in Washington DC, so Grace and I had to take the metro. To me, the architecture of the metro reminds me of a sci-fi movie. It has round tunnels with geometric tiles and red lights in the ground that flash when a train is coming, it looks like the main thoroughfare of some future post-apocalyptic city.

The fundraiser’s office we went to in the city reminded me of a very different pop-culture genre: The West Wing. It was completely blue with a very large democratic donkey sculpture in a conference room and vintage democratic presidential campaign posters. The people in it were very professional, focused, and rather tall. It was like stepping into a different world.

In the meeting the two staff members we met with listened intently while Alice explained CIF’s history and our new project to start a labor resource center. They promised to look through their contacts in Virginia and identify possible individuals who would be willing to donate to our project. What was interesting is that they were most interested in who we spoke to at funder organizations more than what we said to them. It was important for them to know who our contacts were so that they could use their contacts to the best of their ability.

Steph- Worker’s Meeting in Library

5 Jul

Last week we had the meeting to which Grace, Connie, Alejandro, Carlos, and I had all been inviting the day laborers to come to, to talk about the new Centreville Labor Resource Center which will be opening this summer. In the beginning, the meeting started off a little slow. A christian, korean men’s group called 2-20 graciously donated pizza and soda to feed everyone at the meeting, and for awhile they were the only new people there! Carlos and I decided to wait outside of the library to invite workers to come as they came home from work. After a half an hour enough people had showed up that we decided to go in and start eating the pizza.

The first part of the meeting was dedicated to hearing from a legal aid group which helps workers get their salaries from employers who refuse to pay. Dan Choi and an intern named Eva told the workers about their rights. Chief among these were the right to a minimum wage and overtime. It seemed like everyone there appreciated the information and at least learned something about what their option were when their rights were being violated. As this presentation went on, several more workers showed up to the meeting, making the total attendance about 20-25 workers.

After that we were able to have Miki, Carlos, and Alejandro, three of the workers who have been involved since the beginning talk about the benefits of the center and why they were involved. The workers got a chance to ask questions and give their opinions. One important topic was to reassure the workers that the police were in favor of this center since it made their job easier, decreasing the amount of employers stopping on the street and obstructing traffic. The workers would benefit from having a safe place to wait where they could count on a more equitable distribution of work, the police would have less work to do in regards to maintaining the flow of traffic, and the community would also have a safe place to come and hire the workers they need. Win/win/win!

The last part of the meeting was a skit showing how the lottery would be performed. The workers were seemed excited to take part in the skit, and it led to excellent conversation regarding how the center would function when it was open. Ultimately there are still a few things to figure out, but I think this meeting really helped everyone to imagine how the center would work and got some more new day laborers excited about it opening this summer.