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Hospital-Trained Chaplains Provide Solace in Farm Fields



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After spending two winter seasons working California and Arizona fruit harvests, Rigoberto Escobedo Muñoz expects the loneliness of being away from his wife and four children in Tamaulipas, Mexico. But this winter it’s more heart-wrenching. When he headed north this time, his 9-year-old son was in the hospital undergoing cancer treatments.

After hearing his story, the other pickers offered their support with $10 and $20 bills from their pockets. But one co-worker brought him even more crucial support – an introduction to Chaplain Juan Gutiérrez. Gutiérrez promised to come later to the Delano hotel where Muñoz lives with other farmworkers.

“I’m going to meet with him, pray with him, cry with him, whatever it takes for him to know that I’m there for him,” Chaplain Gutierrez said.

It is all part of Gutierrez’ job with Valley non-profit Workforce Chaplaincy. Sarconi Fresh Harvest, a company that supplies agricultural laborers from Mexico and Guatemala on H-2A visas to California growers, contracts with Workforce Chaplaincy to provide spiritual and emotional support to the farmworkers.

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