Students from Sweetwater Valley High School District used their day off of school Thursday to honor the legacy of Cesar Chavez with a day of service.
“When we work on this holiday,” one volunteer said, “it has nothing to do with a day off school.”
During the annual Cesar Chavez Day, volunteers from South Bay Community Services worked to improve neighborhood projects from cleaning up trash, to planting a garden at a school, to painting a new mural on the campus of Castle Park Middle School.
The mural honors Chavez, who spent his life working to improve the lives of those most vulnerable.
“People might notice and be like ‘wow this person is getting better. Maybe I should start getting better too,’” student Bianca Espinoza said of the effect of volunteering.
Cesar Chavez, himself a farmer, co-founded the National Farm Workers Association, later renamed the United Farm Workers Union (UFW).
“I’m appreciating that my family used to be farmers,” volunteer Jasmin Rodriguez said. “I’m not embarrassed to say my family used to be. I’m actually proud of it.”
Among the guests of honor at the celebration, which included music, food and traditional dancing, was Barbara Ybarra, Cesar Chavez’s granddaughter.
“I think it’s his message overall – ‘si, se puede’, it’s always about that – ‘yes, we can’ and everything is possible,” Ybarra said of the union’s motto created by Chavez and the UFW’s co-founder Dolores Huerta in 1972.
Meanwhile, to celebrate Chavez’s birthday and the historic vote to raise the California minimum wage, Union Workers chanted ‘si, se puede’ as they marched through the streets of downtown.
Chavez was born on March 31, 1927. If he had lived be would have turned 89 Thursday. Chavez died in 1993 of natural causes.