SIFE seeks to help migrant farmworkers

By Kyle Beck
Contributing Writer

Students in Free Enterprise (SIFE) at Palm Beach Atlantic University has teamed up with the Farmworker Coordinating Council (FWCC) to help migrant workers with their finances.

They plan to assist a few migrant workers in starting and maintaining their own businesses.

The Farmworker Coordinating Council, a non-profit organization, began in 1978 to assist farm workers caught without jobs during an especially difficult winter. Today it is a social services agency addressing the barriers to basic needs faced by farmers in Palm Beach County.

The council serves over 30,000 migrant farm workers and their families in the community. FWCC’s mission is to promote self-sufficiency and improve the quality of life of migrant and seasonal farm workers through education, advocacy and access to services.

“Right now we’re working with the FWCC to do a micro loan program,” said SIFE member Jeannie Guzman.

“We’re writing a curriculum for the FWCC so that they can choose a recipient for the grant so that person can take the money and start a business,” Guzman said.

The current members of SIFE at PBA are Jeannie Guzman, Putnam Kling, John Rummo and Bonnie Prescott.

They saw this as an opportunity to help migrant workers in nearby Lake Worth, where there are a large number of workers. Many are neglected despite their hard work, and some are victims of crime.

“The main reason our hearts were led to this project was because we felt there was a need in the Lake Worth area for the migrant workers who are getting attacked and robbed of all their money because they only carry cash,” Guzman said.

SIFE initially started teaching migrant workers business concepts in a financial literacy course, and wanted them to know every aspect of starting a business.

“We spoke to them about opening up a bank account, and we found close banks that are in walking distance so they can open an account,” Guzman said.

FWCC asked SIFE to help start the micro loan program, which could lead to a partnership between the FWCC and SIFE for future projects.

In March the winners of the micro loan will be announced and they will be able to start their own businesses.

For those interested in volunteering for FWCC, look for Workship opportunities on PBA Web site soon.

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