Education, Farmworker Children

Farmworker Group Helps Children Excel in School

From Sun-Sentinel.com, Alexia Campbell, Sun Sentinel, 13 Dec 2011.

Gabriel Beltran, 9, works on his reading lesson with help from Education Director Dana Morgenstern. (MARK RANDALL, Sun Sentinel / November 16, 2011)

Gabriel Beltran, 9, works on his reading lesson with help from Education Director Dana Morgenstern. (MARK RANDALL, Sun Sentinel / November 16, 2011)

Silvia Gorzoni’s biggest mistake in life was not getting a college degree, she said. The 39-year-old single mother has cleaned houses in South Florida for more than a decade to give her three children the opportunity she missed in her native Brazil.

Gorzoni, who lives west of Delray Beach, is accomplishing that with the support of the Farmworkers Children’s Council. The nonprofit organization helps children from low-income families excel in school with tutoring and an academic summer camp.

“I always had the dream that my daughters would go to school. Now it has happened,” said Gorzoni, who moved from Brazil to South Florida in 1998.

Her elder daughter, Yasmin Gorzoni, is finishing her first semester studying criminal justice at Florida Atlantic University.

The council started helping Yasmin, now 19, with her homework when she was in elementary school. The staff and volunteers stayed late many nights to help her with her projects.

“I always needed help with science and math,” said Yasmin, who dreams of working for the FBI. “Then I started knowing more and more what to do.”

Yasmin also joined the council’s seven-week academic camp in the summers. She graduated in June from Olympic Heights High School on the AB honor roll.

Gorzoni’s youngest daughter, Natalia, 15, and her son Gabriel, 9, also attend the homework sessions and summer camp.

The Farmworkers Children’s Council serves about 80 children through its homework sessions and more than 100 children through its summer camp.

The homework program is offered five days a week at the In the Pines nonprofit housing developments nearBoynton Beach and Delray Beach.

The council and the housing communities mostly serve families of immigrants working in nearby plant nurseries and vegetable farms. Gorzoni’s family was accepted into the program in 2004 because she was raising three children on a limited income, including a premature baby boy with medical needs.

Donna Marie Goray, of Ocean Ridge, started the Farmworkers Children’s Council in 1981 with members of a local Catholic church. They saw children spend their days in Palm Beach County fields as their parents worked, she said.

“Many [parents] didn’t even realize their children had to go to school,” Goray said.

The group met with the farmworkers and began picking up their children from school. That evolved into the summer camp and homework programs.

Gorzoni credits the council with helping her family thrive in a new country. She still hasn’t given up on going to college, she said. Gorzoni still cleans homes for a living, but takes English classes at night and plans to get a degree in hospitality and hotel management. Working at Walt Disney World is her new dream.

“All I want is to wake up in the morning and be excited about going to work,” she said.

apcampbell@SunSentinel.com, 561-243-6609 or Twitter @AlexiaCampbell

Source: Sun-Sentinel.com, “Farmworker group helps children excel in school” by Alexia Campbell, Sun Sentinel, 13 Dec 2011.

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