From CenterPostDispatch.com, 10 Nov 2011.
CENTER, NM — More than 150 professionals from the migrant farmworker health arena will honor Center resident Mitch Garcia Nov. 10 in Albuquerque New Mex., for his tireless advocacy, commitment to increasing access to care for farmworkers as a longstanding member of the Migrant Heatlh Movement.
For over 20 years, Garcia has been a dedicated advocate promoting access to health care for the farmworker population. He successfully managed eight clinics for Valley-Wide Health Systems as a Director of Farmworker Services and also served as the Director of the Migrant Voucher Program from 2001-2010.
Garcia was instrumental in the development of Valley migrants’ health program and mobile clinic, as well as implementation of other special projects. His charisma and networking ability led to successful community partnerships and establishment of linkages with many migrant advocates and service agencies in the Colorado community. His effervescent personality and enthusiasm for education led him to be a highly sought after speaker and trainer.
While working with the Caesar Chavez eye clinic in Center for 15 years, Garcia assisted hundreds of families. He also served on a committee at La Puente, helping to raise funds for the organization.
“(Mitch) is very deserving and has been a champion, a cheerleader, an investigator, a staunch supporter, a caring provider and such a good friend to migrant farmworkers,” Garcia’s longtime colleague Marguerite Salazar said.
Aurora Martinez, Chair of the Board of Directors at Valley Wide Health Systems added that, “The passion that Mitch has for his commitment to working in the arena of farm workers health and other aspects of cultural competency is truly emitted by the heart-felt words that he so naturally and sincerely expresses. It is very fitting for Mitch to receive this recognition since he has dedicated so much of his life to these relevant and meaningful endeavors.”
In addition to his contributions as a care provider, Garcia also is a lead trainer on Cultural Competency for the Hispanic Health Alliance and is a frequent presenter at the Migrant Health Stream Forums. He has a long standing relationship with migrant health colleagues at a national, state and regional level and continues to be active with NACHC, NCFH, and most recently as a board member of Migrant Health Promotion.
Garcia also has served as a Farmworker representative in the Governors Blue Ribbon Commission on Health Care Reform – Vulnerable Populations Task Force. Through his fellowship with the Bighorn Leadership Program on Rural Health he had the opportunity to learn more about the social determinants of health. To put these skills to us, he joined forces with his community to pass a ballot issue authorizing a bond for a new school in center Colorado, serving many farmworker children.
“I have very fond memories of working with so many of these people over the years,” Garcia said in a phone interview last week. “My favorite project was the work I did with La Puente.”