The plight of migrant farm workers has been in the news recently as immigration issues take center stage in the United States. But for Ren Workman ’18, a double major in cultural anthropology and environmental studies, and Kevin Collado ’18, an architectural studies major with a music minor, those issues have greater importance.
Workman and Collado are interns with Rural & Migrant Ministry (RMM), a state-wide non-profit organization that has been working with the disenfranchised, especially farm workers and rural workers, helping to support their communities and nurturing leadership. Founded in 1981, the group is non-denominational with ties to church groups including the Roman Catholic dioceses of Albany and Rochester, the Episcopal dioceses of New York and Rochester, and the Upper NY Conference of the United Methodist Church.
Workman and Collado’s efforts have been on behalf of RMM’s Justice Organization of Youth (JOY). “JOY is a group of high school students who want to make positive change in their communities and strive for justice using strategy to create systemic change,” says Workman. “Each Friday, we hold a meeting where the students discuss the three topics that they have chosen for this year: racism in schools, racial profiling, and farm worker rights. Our jobs as interns include picking up and dropping off students, facilitating dialogue, organizing meetings, and being mentors for the group.”
The two HWS students have been a part of the JOY group since August 2016, and are impressed with the level of growth they have seen in the teens with whom they are working. “Whether it is in their ability to articulate their opinions, express new ideas, or come together as a cohesive unit, these students never cease to amaze me,” says Collado.
Workman and Collado’s work with RMM will finish when the semester ends, and they are encouraging HWS students interested in a vibrant and fulfilling volunteer experience with upstate New York’s migrant community to consider applying for an internship with RMM. For more information, check out the Rural & Migrant Ministry website, or contact Workman or Collado with questions.
The Rural & Migrant Ministry is one of the 2017 Alternative Spring Break service locations.