Episcopal Farmworker Ministry responds to the physical, emotional, social, and spiritual needs of farmworkers and their families, and actively supports opportunities for them to become self-directive. We seek to minister to farmworkers in three principal ways:
- through direct services
- through development and support of programs that work toward the empowerment of farmworkers and increase the level of interaction between farmworkers and the public
- through farmworker leadership development, advocacy, and education aimed toward a systematic change of agricultural policy at local and state levels.
The Episcopal Farmworkers Ministry continues this mission to provide direct services, advocacy, education and sacramental care to farmworkers in the NC counties of Johnston, Harnett and Sampson.
Immigration Program: Inmigrantes Unidos
EFWM’s Inmigrantes Unidos Program includes the following interconnected components:
- Direct Services: Our BIA certified paralegal assists eligible low-income immigrants from rural North Carolina with their applications before the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services. Services rendered will include citizenship and residency applications, family petitions, TPS, DACA, and VAWA.
- Community Education: Through nonformal education events and presentations, EFWM provides resources to prepare the community for immigration reform and immigration enforcement measures.
- Leadership Development and Community Resilience: Local leaders are identified and trained to participate in conversations with civic groups who are interested in immigration and acting in solidarity with immigrants.
- Advocacy: Community leaders join faith leaders, partner organizations, and individuals to advocate for immigration laws that improve their lives.
Immigrants are currently facing numerous challenges: a hostile anti-immigrant environment, stricter immigration laws, the separation of their families, discrimination, and lack of access to resources and social safety nets. It is more important than ever for immigrants to adjust their immigration status, learn about their rights, learn about bills that may impact their lives, and take action to demand justice for their families. Inmigrantes Unidos is a comprehensive program designed for low-income immigrants in rural Eastern North Carolina to do just that.
Immigration attorneys can often be expensive to the immigrants in the community, many who are agricultural workers that earn sub-poverty wages. Demand for high-quality, bilingual immigration assistance in the rural areas is high and there is a shortage of attorneys. As reported by NPR, traveling to larger cities to obtain legal services can be too costly or might put someone at risk of deportation, since it requires driving long distances. Demand for immigration assistance services in our community is high based on our experience since 1986, when the program started.
Our BIA certified paralegal assists eligible low-income immigrants from rural North Carolina with their applications before the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services at a low cost. Services rendered include citizenship and residency applications, family petitions, TPS, DACA, and VAWA.
The community is also hungry for information about changes to immigration laws and enforcement policies. There was massive confusion after last year’s hurricanes, as families were unsure about the consequences of asking FEMA for help. Immigrants were also nervous to use social services after public charge changes were announced. Lack of information about immigrant rights has resulted in a speedy separation of families and a culture of fear. The community has requested more trainings about immigrant rights and immigration laws. We know that when people have the information that they need, they make the best decisions to protect themselves and their families.
Since 2019, EFWM started working with community leaders to encourage them to use their individual and collective stories to create social change. Community members shared their experiences and engaged in conversations about immigration and racism with groups of students and churches. Others visited elected officials to advocate for immigration reform.
We believe that our immigration program increases the resiliency of the population as they face increasing challenges related to immigration. EFWM works with immigrants from different counties in Eastern rural North Carolina, especially Sampson, Johnston, Harnett, Duplin, and Lenoir Counties.
La Sagrada Familia
Farmworkers and local residents gather every Sunday at noon, at the Episcopal Farmworker Ministry, to celebrate the Holy Eucharist with the Episcopal congregation: La Sagrada Familia.
Our staff gives rides to farmworkers who want to attend the service but don’t have transportation.
Sunday is not only a day of worship but also a day of community. Many farmworkers from camps in which they are usually isolated have the opportunity to interact with other farmworkers in a relaxed environment with access to food and to several services provided.
To support our efforts to get farmworkers to the service, please make a donation to EFWM.
Episcopal Farmworker Ministry provides farmworkers and members of their community with English classes so that they can gain the speaking, reading, and writing skills necessary to participate fully in their roles as family members, community members, and workers.
In order to ensure the participation of women, we provide child care and food.
You can support this program by:
- Making a donation to EFWM
- Donating hot meals for the students
- Donating gift cards for the child care volunteers ($30)
Contact us if you want to make a donation!
The Ministry often provides transportation to farmworkers without vehicles of their own. This allows the farmworkers accessibility to the Ministry to and from the camps. Transportation is also provided for medical and immigration appointments, DMV visits, cashing checks, and airport pick-ups and drop-offs when needed during the season for an emergency or at the end of the season when farmworkers return home.
To support our efforts to provide transportation to the workers, please make a donation to EFWM.
Agricultural work still falls under the 5 worse paid jobs category with an average individual income of $15,000 to $18,000. According to NWAS (National Agricultural Workers Survey 2013-2014)* approx. 1/3rd of the farmworkers have family incomes below poverty. Food distribution through the ministry serves a very important function for the farmworker community of the area.
The Episcopal Farmworker Ministry seeks to increase the food security of farmworkers and their communities, by providing low-income families with free food items. We serve approximately 125 families with each delivery, and close to 4,000 individuals per year. Deliveries take place thanks to local volunteers.
The food is provided by volunteers, churches, and the Food Bank of Central & Eastern North Carolina.
You can support this program by: donating Maseca, eggs, vegetable oil, instant coffee, rice, beans, laundry detergent, and Clorox to complement the aid that we provide with our food bank. Contact us if you would like to make a donation!
Visitor Programs - Immersion Trips
EFWM staff organizes an educational immersion program for visitors that want to learn more about farmworkers. The program includes presentations by EFWM and some of their partners, volunteer opportunities, and interactions with H-2A workers at camps.
The program takes place during the agricultural season, from May until October.
All groups must attend an orientation session where they learn about farmworker issues, were we reflect about the meaning of solidarity, and where they get information about the ground rules when working with EFWM.
Visitors will be responsible of bringing their own food but will be allowed to use our kitchen facilities.
With the help of the congregation, we will hire interpreters for each visit, to facilitate communication between the participants despite the language barrier.
We rely on your donations to continue the work of EFWM. The cost of participating in this program is:
- $35 per person per day for trips that last for 1-2 days
- $30 per person per day for trips that last for 3-5 days
- $25 per person per per day for trips that last for 6-10 days
Discounted rates will be negotiated as needed.
For more information, please contact us at (919) 805-1607
*WE ARE CURRENTLY EXPERIENCING SOME MAINTENANCE ISSUES, SO GROUPS ARE WELCOME TO COME, BUT HAVE TO MAKE SLEEPING ARRANGEMENTS OUTSIDE OF EFWM.
Episcopal Farmworker Ministry organizes a farmworker festival every year, to celebrate the work performed by farmworkers! This special event provides them with a space where they can celebrate their culture with music, traditional cuisine, and sports. They will also have access to information about the services and resources available to them.
A soccer competition takes place during the event. The winning team plays against a group of allies the week after, in a fundraiser, in order to cover some of the expenses of the event.
We invite churches, supporters, volunteers, businesses, art groups, and non-profits to join us for this event!
For more information contact us!
Health Program for Farmworkers
Episcopal Farmworker Ministry provides farmworkers with gloves and water carriers in order to decrease heat-related illnesses and exposure to nicotine.
Each year at least one farmworker in North Carolina dies of heat stress. These deaths are preventable. Workers need to drink water and take shade breaks throughout the day. NC law does not require mandatory breaks, which makes it harder for farmworkers to protect their health. In an effort to improve this situation, we provide workers with water carriers that they can attach to their belts, that are sustainable, and that keep the water cool.
Pesticides are a danger to farmworkers and farmers unless they are properly handled. Long term effects to pesticide exposure include cancer, sterility, memory loss, blindness, and birth defects passed on to children. Short term effects include nausea, chest pains, difficulty breathing, excessive sweating, headaches, skin rashes, muscle spasms, and dizziness.
Green Tobacco sickness is an occupational illness which affects workers who touch green tobacco plants. It is also called nicotine poisoning or “The Green Monster”. When you touch green tobacco leaves, especially wet leaves, you absorb nicotine through the pores of your skin.Nicotine is a powerful stimulant and if you absorb enough of it, you will have some painful symptoms of nicotine poisoning. The nicotine can also cause fluctuation in your blood pressure or heart rate, and it can elevate your body temperature, making you more susceptible to heat related illnesses.
In an effort to help workers protect themselves from pesticide exposure and nicotine poisoning, we provide workers with long sleeve shirts, cotton clothes, and gloves.
To support our efforts to educate and help protect farmworkers from heat related illnesses, pesticide exposure, and nicotine poisoning, please make a donation to EFWM.
Episcopal Farmworker Ministry provides the local immigrant and low-income communities with an affordable way to acquire clothing and other household objects, by hosting a clothing and household items sale once a month.
The cost of the clothing is $5 for all you can fit in a supermarket sized paper bag.
The funding obtained is used to cover the cost of running the program. An average of 20 volunteers from the community help us pick up and sort donations, and set up the event.
*The sale excludes items that we deliver to farmworkers during our outreach program.
To support this program, please contact us for a list of the items that are needed.
Disaster Relief Program
Episcopal Farmworker Ministry provides disaster relief services to victims of natural disasters in farmworker communities.
We collect and delivering food, water, hygiene products, and cleaning supplies donations. EFWM also supports affected families by providing rent assistance, home repairs, transportation to home town, replacement of furniture and appliances, mental health services etc.
EFWM also partners with other organizations to provide support for the families that need services provided by government and non-profit organizations and agencies.
We prioritize the farmworker communities located in Sampson, Johnston, and Harnett counties. When these communities are not affected by the disaster, EFWM works with other organizations to provide services to affected farmworkers and families in other areas of Eastern NC.
Also, a special thank you to our partners, who have helped us identify needs, distribute and collect donations, and obtain funding. Some of them are:
- American Red Cross
- El Futuro, Inc.
- Episcopal Relief and Development
- Episcopal Diocese of North Carolina
- Episcopal Diocese of East Carolina
- Conservation Fund
- Day One Disaster Relief
- Greene County Health Care
- Kinston Community Health Center
- Manos Unidas, NC Farmworker Health Program
- Migrant Education Program
- Mutual Aid Disaster Relief
- NC Farmworker Project
- One Day Disaster Relief
- Operation NC Florence / Michael Relief
- NC Justice Center
Numerous Episcopal Churches throughout NC support our efforts. Some of them are:
o Christ Episcopal Church, Raleigh
o Chapel of the Cross Episcopal Church, Chapel Hill
o St. John’s Episcopal Church’s Youth Group, Fayetteville
o St. Michael’s Episcopal Church, Raleigh
o St. Andrews on the Sound, Nag’s Head
o St. Stephens Episcopal Church, Goldsboro
o St. James Episcopal Church, Shallotte
o St. Matthews’ Episcopal Church, Hillsborough
o Church of the Holy Family, Chapel Hill
o St Mark’s Episcopal Church, Raleigh
Summer Trips for Children
Episcopal Farmworker Ministry provides children, ages 6 to 17, in farmworkers’ families and communities with the opportunity to visit different areas of North Carolina, in order to them to different cultures, lifestyles, and opportunities.
We coordinate three day-trips, with about 50 people per trip, in order to expose the children to different cultures, lifestyles, and opportunities.
In the past children have gone to museums, state parks, a recycling center, etc.
Building Bridges Together
Episcopal Farmworker Ministry invites churches to visit Dunn, and share a meal with local farmworkers and families. The visits last from 2 to 3 hours.
Our staff will put together a program for each visit to foster meaningful interactions between participants. Each visit will include sharing a meal together, an activity, and a reflection.
With the help of the congregation, we will hire interpreters for each visit, to facilitate communication between the participants despite the language barrier.
The objective is to provide a space for both communities to get to know each other. Through their interactions, participants will identify things that they have in common. This will allow them to feel empathy and to act in solidarity with each other in the future. By creating a horizontal space for all participants, we also provide an opportunity for workers and their communities to give back to the church members (by sharing aspects of their culture, performing a song, sharing about their lives, etc.). We hope that these interactions will result in a higher commitment to EFWM by both parties.
Visiting churches will have the opportunity to sponsor a program/service, or to make a donation.
Outreach to H-2A Camps
Episcopal Farmworker Ministry staff visits H-2A farmworkers during the agricultural season, breaking some of the isolation experienced by the workers.
During our visits, we share information about our events and services, services offered by other agencies, information about health (including pesticide exposure), and information about La Sagrada Familia.
We also use this opportunity to deliver donations (clothes, hygiene kits, cleaning supplies, food, etc).
Having sufficient and adequate clothing is very important for farmworkers, since they are constantly exposed to nicotine and pesticides.
We recently started collecting, board games, sports equipment, and books in Spanish, in order to provide workers with comfort and healthy entertainment while they are away from home. Mental health issues have been studied in the farmworker community, and research conducted in North Carolina has found that farmworkers experience substantial anxiety and depressive symptoms. Having access to reading material that interrupts the loneliness and monotony of isolated living can be a therapeutic way to lessen the depressive symptoms that farmworkers experience. We hope to ameliorate feelings of isolation, depression, and loneliness that can occur when far away from home.
If you are interested in collecting donations for these workers, please contact us!
These are our on-going needs:
- Men’s long sleeve shirts sizes S, M and L.
- Men’s Shoes and socks sizes 7-10.
- Men’s underwear sizes S, M, and L.
- Hygiene products (regular size): shampoo, body wash, comb, toothbrush, tooth paste, dental floss, Tylenol, Bengay, Insect Repellant
- Books in Spanish for youth and adults
- Sports equipment
- Board games
Other On-Going Programs
- Promoting our programs and services with partners and businesses frequently visited by the community
- Church presentations (contact us if you would like us to visit your community!)
- Advocacy opportunities
- Hosting health clinics, law clinics, or other services provided by partners
- Free haircuts on Sundays
- Hosting organizations for events or trainings