New Mecca Comfort Station Open for Migrant Farmworkers

Claudia Gomez, co-founder of The Galilee Center in Mecca, Calif., welcomes the first field workers to the newly opened Mecca Comfort Station. Photo: Amanda Flores / Coachella Unincorporated
Claudia Gomez, co-founder of The Galilee Center in Mecca, Calif., welcomes the first field workers to the newly opened Mecca Comfort Station. Photo: Amanda Flores / Coachella Unincorporated

By Amanda Flores

Mecca, Calif. — This week the Galilee Center’s Mecca Comfort Station addition officially opened to provide much-needed services for migrant farm workers in the Eastern Coachella Valley.

The comfort station offers field workers and their families access to showers, restrooms, laundry services and a community room. The purpose of this facility, according to Gloria Gomez, co-founder of The Galilee Center, is to help serve migrant farm workers who often have limited or no housing options without a place to shower or wash their clothes after a hard day’s work.

“We are here to serve the people of Mecca and the Coachella Valley, especially the farm workers,” said Gomez. “I believe that this facility will help provide a place where farm workers can feel, as human beings, dignity, love, and respect. To me, that is one of my most important missions.”

The Mecca Galilee Center opened in 2010 to provide food, clothing, and other items to local families in need, and the new shower and laundry programs will offer additional services to between 100-150 farm workers each day, according to Gomez. The center is open during the winter and summer harvest seasons, which are from November to March and from May to June in the east valley, respectively. There is no cost to use this facility, though laundry services cost $1 to wash and $1 to dry clothes.

The Galilee Center's Mecca Comfort Station officially opened on Sunday, November 1, 2015. The station provides services to migrant field workers in the Eastern Coachella Valley. Photo: Amanda Flores / Coachella Unincorporated
The Galilee Center’s Mecca Comfort Station officially opened on Sunday, November 1, 2015. The station provides services to migrant field workers and their families. Photo: Amanda Flores / Coachella Unincorporated

Alejandro Diaz, 54, who just arrived in the east valley from Oxnard, Calif. was the first person to use the brand new station.

“I am very thankful and humbled that there is a beautiful facility for me and my friends to use while we are working in this area,” Diaz said. “I plan on using the facility every day while I am working here.”

Ishmael Martinez, 63, who also recently came in the east valley for work, learned about the comfort station after attending mass on Sunday at Our Lady of Guadalupe Church in Mecca.

“I just got here from Salinas, and I needed a place to clean up. I am glad there is a place here in Mecca for me to use. I will be using this facility for as long as I am here in this area,” said Martinez.

Construction on the comfort station  began earlier this year, fulfilling a promise Riverside County made 15 years ago to provide a permanent comfort station in this unincorporated community.

The comfort station will be open every day from November 1-March 31 and from May 1-July 31, closing for the months of April and October between the winter and summer harvest seasons. On Mondays through Fridays the facility will be open from 10 a.m to 7 p.m and on Saturday and Sunday, the station will be open 12 p.m. to 6 p.m.

The Galilee Center is always accepting donations and personal hygiene products to help operate the comfort station. For more information, contact the Center at 760-396-9100 or visit their website.

 

 

3 thoughts on “New Mecca Comfort Station Open for Migrant Farmworkers

  • Pingback: In Mecca, migrants find temporary comfort | Youth Media for Building Healthy Communities

  • November 10, 2015 at 6:32 am
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    One thing that has been interesting about all the coverage of the comfort station is that there is little or no mention of its history. The comfort station was part of a settlement agreement entered into by about 30 farmworkers and the County of Riverside, after the farmworkers sued the County for racial discrimination in its code enforcement. Although the settlement was made in the early 2000s, the County (in my opinion) disregarded this element of the settlement agreement for years, until one of the farmworkers re-sued the County in about 2010 or 2011 to enforce the original agreement. Since then, I understand the County and the farmworkers’ attorneys were negotiating a final resolution to the issue, and — at long last — the comfort center was finally born. I think the farmworkers who demanded this center deserve a lot of credit that they are not getting. Just my two cents on a Monday night!

    Reply
    • November 13, 2015 at 12:26 am
      Permalink

      Hi Megan,

      Thank you for your comment. Earlier this year, one of our CU youth reporters, Ivan Valenzuela, reported on the Mecca Comfort Station and he included a lot of the background information you mentioned, including quotes from Ivan’s interview with Blaz Gutierrez III, a staff attorney for CRLA.

      Here is a link to Ivan’s earlier coverage of the station.

      Thank you again for your comment! We enjoy reading feedback from members of our community!

      Thank you,

      Amber Amaya

      Program Manager and Editor
      Coachella Unincorporated
      aamaya@newamericamedia.org

      Reply

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