GCF Corps Honors Labor Leader Cesar Chavez through Service

April 07, 2016  |   Posted by :   |   Blog   |   Comments Off on GCF Corps Honors Labor Leader Cesar Chavez through Service»

GCF began a new tradition this year by participating in César Chávez Day. The holiday–Chávez’ birthday–pays honor to the Mexican American farm worker, civil rights activist, and labor leader who organized farm workers to improve their working and living conditions, and co-founded the National Farm Workers Association. Today, Chávez’ work continues to inspire and inform the work of activists, and the slogan he helped popularize “si, se puede”, is used by grassroots organizers worldwide.


In recognition of the day this year, President Obama issued a proclamation recognizing the life and legacy of Chávez. It stated, “[Chávez] reminded us that “once social change begins, it cannot be reversed” and that each and every person has the ability to be that change.” The proclamation included a call for Americans to honor Chávez’ legacy by performing service in their communities.

GCF’s corps heard this call, and took action.

Our Urban Farm Corps is currently serving full-time in Brownsville, Brooklyn, where they are building an urban farm at the New York City Housing Authority’s Howard Houses as part of the Urban Agriculture Initiative. The farm corps dedicated their service activities on Thursday, March 31 to Chávez, with conversation about his legacy threaded throughout the day. These conversations built on a foundation of knowledge laid during orientation, when the Urban Farm Corps watched a documentary about Chávez. At the conclusion of service, the corps observed a thirty second moment of silence followed by four Corps Members addressing their teammates with quotes by the civil rights leader.

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The Urban Farm Corps members are currently building the Howard Houses farm in Brownsville, Brooklyn.

The Urban Farm Corps members are currently building the Howard Houses farm in Brownsville, Brooklyn.

Debriefing after the day of service, Urban Agriculture Director Jennifer Tirado reflected, “It was a very powerful service day complete with lots of reflection. One reflection was on the idea of how labor intensive service was, but how it does not pale in comparison to the intensity of the times of Chávez–how service challenges are not really challenges in light of what we have learned. We recognized that consciousness plus commitment equals change.”

On Monday, GCF’s Energy Corps also spent time reflecting on the legacy of Chávez, and had the opportunity to meet with local union labor leaders from DC 37.

“The service that we all do, whether it be energy reduction education or providing healthy eating options for NYCHA residents thru our growing Urban Agriculture Initiative, enables GCF staff, members and alums to do our part towards bringing economic equality and better opportunities to those who need it the most,” shared GCF Chief Program Officer Dennis Acevedo.

“So I have no doubt that if César were alive to see our Corps Member today in action he would smile and say his work as a civil rights leader continues today in every one of us, top to bottom.”


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