On Thursday, August 25, East Coast Migrant Head Start Project welcomed Karishma Merchant (from Senator Tim Kaine’s Washington, DC office) and Lauren Marshall (from Senator Mark Warner’s Washington DC office) to our Head Start centers on the Virginia Eastern Shore. Karishma and Lauren had reached out to ECMHSP so that they could learn more about the important work that we do. We were only too happy to provide them with an education on the Migrant and Seasonal Head Start program.
Karishma and Lauren started their visit at the Eastern Shore Community College, a local college that is a strong community partner to many. There, the tomato producer, Lipman Produce, was holding a worker safety training. Lipman had bussed in more than 100 farmworkers to take part in this pesticide and food safety training, including parents whose children attend our centers. Karishma and Lauren had an opportunity to speak with Lipman Produce about their business and their perspective on labor and immigration issues. We then moved on to see a crew of farmworkers from Maryland picking cherry tomatoes under the hot sun. It was more than 90 degrees outside and Karishma and Lauren had a great appreciation for the hard labor involved in picking these small tomatoes.
The next stop was one of the camps that farmworkers call home for the duration of their stay on the Eastern Shore. Our Congressional friends were shocked by how difficult the living conditions were for families. We had to explain, though, that the conditions Karishma and Lauren were seeing were better than many that farmworkers must endure when they travel to harvest our country’s fresh produce.
Our last stop was our wonderful Migrant and Seasonal Head Start center in Parksley. There, Karishma and Lauren were able to visit with some young infants and some sleepy preschoolers. Karishma and Lauren both shared there deep appreciation of our work and that they’d love to learn more from us, particularly in reference to immigration policy. What a tremendous opportunity for us to share accurate information from the real world and to advocate for our families in this area!