A diverse mix turned out for the Colonia Unidad Benefit and Grand Opening, a fundraiser hosted by Farmworker Housing and Development Corporation and benefitting resident programs and services.
The Friday evening event was held at the sparkling new Colonia Unidad apartment complex, located on Park Avenue near Legion Park. Benefit attendees enjoyed drinks, dinner, dancing and entertainment, the latter including music by Trio Romance and Aztec Danza, whose members wore traditional, feathered regalia as they performed and invoked a blessing of the grounds.
Among the mix of attendees were members of the construction crew and architects who planned and built the complex, as were civic leaders and officials: Woodburn Mayor Eric Swenson, Deputy Police Chief Marty Pilcher, City Administrator Scott Derickson, city councilors Lisa Ellsworth, Robert Carney and Sharon Schaub, State Rep. Teresa Alonso Leon and Oregon Housing and Community Services Housing Integrator Chelsea Bunch. The latter two formally addressed the gathering as speakers.
Bunch lauded the constuction and design of the affordable-housing complex as a genuine approach to providing "community, equity and opportunity."
"Community" was a recurring theme throughout the evening. A slide show flashing across a screen at the front of the event's tent delivered numerous quotes reinfocing that theme in English and Spanish.
"We need to be looking out for each other, providing for each other, and solving problems in ways that are for the collective good." -- Michelle Black of Carleton Hart Architecture.
"Unity is more than just meeting individual needs; it's helping individuals become part of a greater community." – Kyle Anderson, LMC Construction.
"Community means that we can share and understand our common interests and goals." – Lizbeth B., 19, FHDC resident.
"Community is...everyone with different languages, cultures and traditions." – Josefina C., Promotora.
Alonso Leon shared a poignant story about entering the U.S. as a four-year-old child, her earliest summer memories involving working in farm fields and picking strawberries, earning 10-cents per pound to help her family make ends meet. She related the near-squalid conditions of their rural-Gervais home, no functional indoor plumbing, especially dicey during harsh winters, and her folks' limited understanding of available services and provisions.
The representative lauded the Colonia Unidad project as a means to combat working poverty and enabling people to work toward improving their conditions.
"People have the right to live in dignity," Alonso Leon said, asserting that FHDC projects serve that end. "Kids get to go to school without worrying when the plumbing freezes."
The event was catered by Woodburn's Casa de Caldos with beverages that included craft beers and wind from Chemeketa Cellars.
The event emcee, Daniel Garcia Cazares, jested with the audience.
"Get some food in your belly and a couple of drinks," he urged. "Then get your wallets ready...We want you to be happy and drunk when you start donating.
"Our goal is to raise $5,000," he added. "And we don't care if we raise more than that."
Farmworker Housing Development Corporation mission states "Developing farmworker leadership for stronger and more secure families and communities through affordable housing, social services, education and economic development.
For information, visit fhdc.org.
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