Ayudando Latinos a So˝ar (ALAS) invites the community to the unveiling and ribbon-cutting ceremony of its colorful, state-of-the-art green tech retrofitted double-decker bus, Farmworker Equity Express, a mobile resource center program developed in partnership with Life Science Cares Bay Area. The program will provide virtual healthcare and educational services to help bridge the equity gap faced by farmworkers in San Mateo County Coastside. The event will take place on Sunday, December 11, 2022 from 2:00 PM ? 5:00 PM in front of ALAS, located at 636 Purissima Street in Half Moon Bay.
The celebration will include farmworkers, families, staff, elected and public officials, community leaders and Equity Express partners: Life Science Cares Bay Area, Gilead Foundation, Genentech and AbbVie. There will be welcome remarks by officials, food, a bus tour, crafts for kids, ALAS program tours, and holiday shopping at the Mercado (Market). The community is invited to bring warm blankets for Farmworkers, jackets and/or a toy for a child to share during the holidays.
The Farmworker Equity Express Bus program includes: virtual connections to healthcare providers, in person culturally-centered mental health services, and online tutoring; plus facilitating online adult classes through local community colleges. The internet and computer-equipped bus will visit several farms in the Half Moon Bay area, enabling workers to connect to needed resources.
The art for the colorful bus wrap was created by Half Moon Bay Native, Antonio Rivera along with partners Tim Gatto and Raquel Gatto of Gatto Rivera Branding. "We were honored to collaborate with ALAS and their sponsors to develop a beautiful, impactful custom bus wrap that reflects the strength and welcoming spirit of the 'Farmworker Equity Express' Mobile Resource Center," said Antonio Rivera. Gatto Rivera drew inspiration from the pink-and-yellow color scheme of the ALAS' headquarters and traditional Mexican art and iconography. The result is a stunning, up-lifting piece that will become the face of this amazing resource center.
"We are looking forward to celebrating the unveiling of the Farmworker Equity Express bus and begin visiting the farms soon. This is the result of the power of nonprofits and Biotech companies coming together and turning ideas into reality," said Dr. Belinda Hernandez-Arriaga, Executive Director of ALAS.
ALAS, a nonprofit organization, advocates for farmworkers and the Latino community. When COVID hit in 2020, ALAS had a clear view of the disparities in access to basic programs by the agricultural worker population, who often live and work long hours in remote areas of the Coastside. The ongoing pandemic highlighted extreme disparities in health equity, evident in disproportionate incidence and mortality of COVID-19 amongst essential workers in general and farmworkers in particular.
Life Science Cares is a nonprofit organization that mobilizes life science companies into collective community action and philanthropy. They secured significant funding from the Gilead Foundation, making it the primary donor of the Equity Express bus transformation project.
"Enabling access to healthcare and education for marginalized and traditionally excluded communities is at the core of what the Gilead Foundation does to advance health equity," said Kate Wilson, Executive Director of the Gilead Foundation. "We are proud to support ALAS and its project to help bridge the equity gap experienced by farmworkers."
Employees from Genentech, which operates a longstanding commuter bus program, contributed their time and expertise to identify and design a double-decker bus to make the dream of the Equity Express a reality. Genentech also provided in-kind donations, and AbbVie Inc. also contributed financially to the project.
While funding to start the project has been secured, Life Science Cares and ALAS are actively searching for additional corporate partners to support and sustain the bus project. In addition, they hope to replicate the Equity Express model in other areas with large farmworker populations, to directly provide resources and services. Expanding this project requires additional partners and more funding.
"We are humbled by the opportunity to support this project," said Aisha Baro, Executive Director of Life Science Cares Bay Area. It's a great example of the innovation that Philanthropy can jumpstart. We are optimistic that this project will provide valuable learnings and potentially become a model for other farmworker communities."
Background of how Farmworker Equity Express was envisioned:
Dr. Belinda Hernandez-Arriaga, Executive Director of ALAS, learned about old, unutilized school buses from ALAS Farmworker Program & Outreach Director, Community Liaison, Joaquin Jimenez. ALAS sparked the idea of a farmworker bus. After presenting the concept to Aisha Baro, Executive Director of Life Science Cares Bay Area, a broader vision emerged with their idea of a bigger and better bus for this service.
"Farmworkers have always experienced an equity gap. The collaboration and innovation behind the Farmworker Equity Express program will help bridge that gap," said Jimenez. "I am so excited to unveil this bus and receive feedback from the farmworkers."
These press releases may also interest you