“Many in our community have lost their lives to COVID-19… but so much remains to be done. It is not time to surrender, it is time to forge ahead.”

Fair Food Nation, you have smashed records: 1,245 donors have come together to raise $112,168 to date, demonstrating the power of grassroots fundraising – but we can’t stop there.

With only days to go of the CIW’s end-of-year fundraising drive, help us get to $120,000 by Dec. 31st!

This past spring, the COVID-19 pandemic swept through Immokalee like a tidal wave.  Just as it did in countless poor, rural communities around the world, the pandemic upended the daily lives of residents, flooded the woefully unprepared public healthcare system, and devastated the town’s humming economy in the final months of the harvest season.

The damage was unlike anything our town of essential farmworkers had ever seen before, but the terrifying truth is this: It could have been much, much worse.  The farmworker community of Immokalee was spared the full brunt of the pandemic’s punch because we — the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, together with thousands of allies around the country like you — sprang into action from day one of the crisis, organizing to demand testing, mobilizing truckloads of personal protective equipment and educating the community on the importance of its use, and leveraging our partnerships with the agricultural industry through the Fair Food Program to implement critical COVID prevention and remediation measures on farms across the state. 

The story of our ongoing battle with COVID-19 in Immokalee constitutes a new chapter in the CIW’s thirty-year history of organizing, but the simple, three-pronged strategy we deployed from the very first days of the pandemic is one that had proven successful in countless battles before: Educate. Mobilize. Fight.

“In 2020, the most important part of Radio Conciencia’s work was educating the community about COVID.  The name itself says it all:  Conciencia, or consciousness.  Given social distancing, we said to ourselves:  How are we going to keep our work going in the community?  The radio has been a key tool in keeping the community’s voice alive during the pandemic.” – CIW’s Cruz Salucio

Since the CIW’s inception in the early 1990s to this very day, education has been the bread and butter of our work in the farmworker community, both here in Immokalee and throughout the seven states where the Fair Food Program operates.  And so it was only natural that, when the threat of a deadly pandemic first appeared on the horizon, we immediately put the finely-honed tools in our toolbox – decades of experience in popular education, a dynamic community radio station, and a deep well of trust in the community – to use.  Through Radio Conciencia 107.7, we blanketed the airwaves – via radio signal, streaming online, and social media – with audio theater about COVID-19, interviews with experts reviewing the latest data and best prevention practices, and curated and credible newscasts.  We produced original popular education drawings in English, Spanish, and Haitian Creole, urging the community to come together to respond as one to the common threat of the virus.  And we hit the streets, knocking on doors and talking one-on-one with thousands of workers in socially distanced, masked conversations to debunk myths, answer questions, and keep the community up to date on the pandemic.

The battle against COVID-19 is far from over in Immokalee.  If you are ready to pitch in for Radio Conciencia and the CIW’s community education efforts for 2021, click here to donate!

“For the Coalition, it was of vital importance that essential workers were protected. We were deeply committed to getting masks and other protections out into the community, driven by the knowledge that the lives of thousands of workers could depend on a simple piece of cloth – a mask.” – CIW’s Nely Rodriguez

At the same time that we ramped up COVID-19 education efforts, we mobilized to secure and distribute protective gear to tens of thousands of farmworkers throughout Immokalee and across the Fair Food Program.  In early March, masks were a scarce resource – so the members of the CIW Women’s Group organized a sewing collective, producing hundreds of masks for the farmworker community.  From there, we sent out a call to our networks, seeking donations to meet the overwhelming need for cloth masks, hand sanitizer, and other essential tools to prevent the spread of the virus in our community. 

We need your help to continue providing critical PPE to the farmworker community in 2021.  Please contribute to our End of Year drive to ensure farmworkers have the protections they need!

“Many in our community have lost their lives to COVID-19, and still others are fighting for their lives in the hospital.  Our hearts may be breaking, but so much remains to be done.  It is not time to surrender, it is time to forge ahead.” – CIW’s Lupe Gonzalo

And finally, we got down to the 24/7 work of fighting to ensure that farmworkers weren’t left out in the cold as the nation mounted a response to the virus.  We sounded the alarm in the press, from the pages of the New York Times and Washington Post to CBS Evening News and CNN Primetime, about the cramped living and working conditions that render farmworkers particularly vulnerable to the spread of a deadly virus like the coronavirus.  We raised national awareness about the essential role that farmworkers have in keeping food on our tables while the rest of the country shelters in place.  We campaigned – with the support of tens of thousands of allies – to demand crucial testing, contact tracing, isolation housing, and social support from the state of Florida and Collier County. 

And, we called in the cavalry:  By launching and coordinating on-the-ground partnerships with Doctors Without Borders and Partners In Health – two of the world’s premier international health organizations with decades of experience providing medical care and shaping local public health strategy in some of the most remote corners of the world – we made sure Immokalee and farmworkers across Florida would not have to brave this pandemic alone.

By donating today, you can be a part of CIW’s ongoing response to the COVID-19 crisis. Click here to contribute.