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National Farmworkers Jobs Program holds grand opening in Watsonville

WATSONVILLE, Calif. (KION-TV)- A program aimed at providing farmworkers with job training and education services opened its doors on Friday.

SER National celebrated the opening of its National Farmworkers Jobs Program located at 349 Main Street. The non-profit's goal is to provide help to the roughly 500,000 to 800,000 farmworkers in California.

"What we do in the community is we perform outreach into finding migrant workers, seasonal workers and their families with educational services," said National Farmworkers Jobs Program Program Director Andre Samayoa. "If a migrant worker needs help after the season ends, we usually give them a plethora of options like truck driver academies, cosmetology programs, educational programs at the local colleges, high school equivalency help, help with resume writing, interview preparations."

Farmworkers usually don't have access to or know where to look for educational services, added Samayoa. The National Farmworkers Jobs Program hopes to fix that and help find other jobs outside the fields' blistering heat and back-breaking work.

Samayoa said when they perform outreach programs in the field, some of their clients struggle to write their names. To help with the educational divide, they provide arithmetic services, writing and reading classes and GED classes.

They have California locations in Santa Cruz, Santa Barbara, Santa Clara and Imperial County.

"I'd recommend this program 100%." said another student studying to get his commercial trucker's license, Marco Antonio Rivera. "It's an available service, but not many people know about it. The program is with you every step so you can excel and get a job out of agriculture."

Another student Patricia Jacobo, added that seeing her pick up a book instead of fruit makes her hope her kids do the same.

"I am training to be an office administrator. I've learned how to use Excel and Word and am currently in a typing course," said Jacobo. "This program is fantastic. People who want to get out of the camps because it's tiring work, it's heavy work, and their backs are hurting have an opportunity to study."

Esperanza Romero, a graduate who earned her GED with the program, said services like these could help the community advance. The confidence she gained by seeing that she could study and earn a job in an office and the support the program provided her was the best thing she got from the program.

"They (NFJP) have helped us set up exams, they've helped us with gas, they support us with encouragement and one-on-one tutoring," said Romero. "It's so helpful because they help with organizing your schedule. That makes balancing work, study and being a mother much easier."

A day full of food and music was held to commemorate this milestone achievement for the program.

Beginning Monday, people can walk through the program's doors every weekday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. to ask about their services. Or you can call at 831-302-1520.

For more information on the program, click here.

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