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.
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.