More than a month after Hurricane Ida ravaged New Orleans and surrounding communities, volunteers with Pasadena’s National Day Laborer Organizing Network (NDLON) loaded a truck with more than 40,000 pounds of food, masks and other safety equipment collected at the Community Job Center in Pasadena.
The truck took off Tuesday from the Crown City to the Crescent City with 1,500 boxes, each containing enough shelf-stable foods and other resources provided by the No Kid Hungry Initiative to sustain one family for up to one month.
“We are sending this truck full of food and supplies to the workers who are rebuilding New Orleans after Hurricane Ida,” said attorney Cal Soto, NDLON worker rights director.
“Day laborers and others have themselves brought a lot of canned and dry goods, as well as diapers and masks and disinfectant for the workers there who don’t have a lot of these resources now, “ Soto said.
Pasadena Mayor Victor Gordo visited the staging area where food and supplies were being loaded onto the truck.
“I want to thank these workers for their kind humanity,” Gordo said. “It’s important to remember that Mano a Mano [Initiative] was born right here at the Job Center in Pasadena, by NDLON and the church community across the street.
“This was initially an effort to help people right here in this community,” Gordo added, “but the love and the desire to help, and the understanding that our workers know what needs to be shared across the country is what’s driving them to now be a national program.”
“New Orleans has suffered from an incidence of storms like this for decades,” said Pablo Alvarado, co-founder of NDLON, “and decade after decade, it’s been the day laborers who have rebuilt it. That’s exactly what happened after Katrina. There were no organizations in the area. Fortunately, we were around and we decided to descend into New Orleans and we built the first immigrant rights organization there.”
A delegation of worker-trainers from the NDLON in New Orleans will receive the truck and then work along with local member organizations Familias Unidas and El Congreso de Jornaleros to distribute the donations.
During the same trip, they will train two-dozen immigrant workers volunteering to become “second responders” in Gulf Coast communities hardest hit by recent hurricanes and flooding. The delegation will spend one week on site visits to carry out brief health and safety training, distribute personal protection equipment (PPE), such as N95 respirators, gloves, goggles, and face shields, and to ensure that health and safety rules are followed.
The trip will culminate with a 10 hour Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) certification training session workshop in Spanish held for local reconstruction workers.
Alvarado pointed out that many of the victims of such disasters are also the same people who are the “second responders.”
“They are the ones who go to remove contaminated water out of basements,” said Alvarado. “They trim the trees that have fallen down, and they are the ones who tear down walls that are filled with mold, and most of the time, employers fail to provide them with the right health and safety protective equipment.”