Written by Gregg Brekke
The Florida Conference of the UCC is conducting a four-part fundraising initiative that includes support for the development of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers' (CIW) new Community Center as part of hosting General Synod 28 in Tampa, Fla., July 1-5.
Immokalee is one of Florida's poorest communities, largely comprising low-wage tomato- and orange-pickers. A worker-led organization, the CIW is internationally recognized for its human-rights work and steadfast support for fair farm-worker wages and working conditions.
What started seven years ago as a small group of six farm workers meeting in a borrowed room at a local church has grown into a 4,000-member organization. Through the efforts of the Campaign for Fair Food, the CIW continues to transform the Florida agricultural industry and hold corporations accountable for abuses in their supply chains.
Located steps from the parking lot where workers gather every morning to find work, the Community Center hosts weekly community meetings; Sunday afternoon women's group meetings with child care; and frequent visitors to the food cooperative and multi-media library. It also serves as the free local movie theater on Saturday evenings and houses Consciousness Radio, 107.9 FM, the CIW's low-power community radio station that addresses issues concerning health, safety and education.
CIW goals include substantially expanding its library of educational materials; professionalizing 107.9 FM to increase its reach; granting even more farm workers access to vital information; and endowing the Center's ongoing expenses to ensure continued success.
The fundraising initiative also will help pay for meeting expenses, as well as support a Florida-wide Stillspeaking media campaign to familiarize residents with the UCC, and pay for participation in a leadership initiative of the UCC's general minister and president.
For further information, please contact Margaret Gleeson at CIWCommunityCenter@gmail.com or 239-503-0928.