Student leaders of the Germantown Friends School Latinos Unidos affinity group, who are planning a fund-raising event to benefit the United Farm Workers of America, are (from left) Ricardo Jaramillo ’14, Isabel Ballester ’14, Manuel Lorenzino-Sepp ’14 and faculty advisor Kate Hanssen. (Photo by Laura Jamieson)

Student leaders of the Germantown Friends School Latinos Unidos affinity group, who are planning a fund-raising event to benefit the United Farm Workers of America, are (from left) Ricardo Jaramillo ’14, Isabel Ballester ’14, Manuel Lorenzino-Sepp ’14 and faculty advisor Kate Hanssen. (Photo by Laura Jamieson)

“Despite what some people might think, many things can be done to improve the lives of migrant farm workers,” said Germantown Friends School senior Ricardo Jaramillo, co-leader of the student affinity club Latinos Unidos.

The group is inviting the community to a fund-raiser at GFS’s Friends Free Library from 7 to 9 p.m Friday, April 11, to raise awareness about issues related to the rights and treatment of migrant laborers as well as education initiatives for Latino students at GFS.

The evening will feature remarks by Eriberto Fernandez, an organizer with the United Farm Workers of America (UFW) in Keene, Ca,, which was co-founded by César Chavez in 1962. Latinos Unidos hopes the event will connect Latinos in the area, build relationships with prominent Latino organizations in the city and promote the group’s efforts in the GFS community. Fernandez will also be the Upper School assembly speaker on April 9.

“Eriberto Fernandez is one of the great organizers of the United Farm Workers of America,” said Jaramillo, who spent a month during his GFS Junior Project with the UFW. “Fernandez is in the fields every week, trying to unionize workers and fight against billion-dollar corporations.”

The club’s faculty advisor, GFS history teacher Kate Hanssen, added, “We would like for people to come away from the event with a sense that despite being located in an urban, East-Coast community, issues of farm workers’ rights are directly relevant to our lives.”

Jaramillo hopes the event will educate people about the many benefits of buying local produce:

“You can feel better knowing that the people who picked the strawberries you are eating have health care, clean drinking water, protection against physical abuse and a way to advocate for themselves,” he said.

The Latinos Unidos club was founded at GFS in 2011 and has more than 20 active members, including both Latino students and non-Latino student allies.

“Latinos Unidos is incredibly important to me, not only as a member of the GFS community, but also as a Latina citizen of Philadelphia,” co-leader Isabel Ballester ’14, said.

Participating in the group inspired her to explore her own family’s history as well as the history of Latino culture in Philadelphia and the country.

Co-leader Manuel Lorenzino-Sepp ’14, said the group also aims to raise awareness about this vastly diverse Hispanic world – geographically and culturally. “I want people to know that not all Latinos are the same, and the enormous differences from one culture to another are what makes being a Latino so wonderful.”

Proceeds from the event will be split between the UFW and Latinos Unidos, so that the students can continue their local initiatives as well as support this important national cause. “With the money we raise we can make a real difference in people’s lives,” Jaramillo said.

The Friday, April 11, event will include wood-fired pizza provided by Pitruco (owned by GFS alum Nathan Winkler-Rhoades ’00). The cost is $25 a person. Don’t miss this interesting and educational event. All are welcome!