Community "adopts" Migrant Education families

(12-23-2016)

Thanks to overwhelming community support, the San Luis Valley Migrant Education Program provided gifts to 70 migrant families through its Adopt-A-Family holiday initiative, now in its fourth year.

"I was overwhelmed by the generosity of the community. Support more than doubled from last year," said Esmeralda Martinez, director of SLV Migrant Education. "We feel fortunate to receive support from so many agencies, community members, and volunteers who have been willing to participate in this initiative year after year."

The gifts were presented at the program's Winter Wonderland/Tierra Maravilloso event, held in Migrant Education's office on the Adams State University campus. "Being housed at Adams State has created more awareness and interest in sponsoring our families," Martinez added. "Departments and staff at ASU collectively provided overwhelming support to many migrant families this holidays."

Dr. Ed Crowther, ASU professor of history, was among those who attended the event. "Families gathered in the homelike atmosphere and shared a meal-including holiday treats. There were presents for the kids and a real-live Santa. For those in need, this was a place of refuge and sustenance. It was a great way to see the deep meaning of the season-coming together to share what we have with each other, whether it's the richness of spirit or holiday gifts," he said.

Simona Guillen, coordinator of Adams State's Title V STEM program, said, "Miracles were witnessed, showing us the spirit of the true meaning of Christmas-giving to those less fortunate during this holiday season. But it wasn't about the gifts. The families were very humble and grateful for the food that was shared with them and the togetherness of the staff that made them feel at home."

The SLV Migrant Education program serves a yearly average of up to 640 students, aged 3-22, from 23 school districts in the San Luis Valley and southwest Colorado. The program connects families of seasonal agricultural workers with community resources, monitors children's achievements, and provides continuity as they change school districts.

"Children may attend four or more schools in a given year," Martinez said. Migrant families may also have needs that must be addressed in conjunction with education. "We help them find resources that help with utilities and home weatherization or provide coats and blankets, food and shelter."

The SLV Migrant Education Program is located on the Adams State campus at the southeast corner of Second St. and Richardson Ave. (1424 Second St.) To learn more about the SLV Migrant Education program, or to refer a family who may benefit from services, contact: Christina Vargas at 719-589-3455 or Esmeralda Martinez at 719-480-1015.

By Julie Waechter