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First Hoopers Island Migrant Resource Fair Draws Large Crowd

Press Release

Captions: Pictured from left to right are Janine Puma – Martinez, Spanish-speaking Interpreter; Ivy Garcia, Director of Latino Services; Alberto Ardaya, Interpreting Services Supervisor; Mary R. Wilson, Community Engagement Coordinator; and Jonathan Qvarnstrom, Outreach and Marketing Associate.

On July 17, For All Seasons sponsored its first Hoopers Island Migrant Resource Fair at the Volunteer Fire House on Hoopers Island in Fishing Creek, Maryland. The event, which drew over 140 participants, was the dream of Ivy Garcia, Director of Latino Outreach and Education at For All Seasons.

“We have struggled with how to reach out to this very isolated community which has needs in its Latino community during the months between April and November when the migrant workers are here on work permits working in the crab-picking houses. COVID prohibited us from meeting in person, so we tried doing support groups via Zoom, but the workers’ schedules were not compatible and the Internet connections at the time in this area were poor,” comments Ivy Garcia, Director of Latino Outreach and Education at For All Seasons.

“I then contacted a Latina worker who had been working for 29 years at Old Salty’s Seafood on Hoopers Island. She asked if I could start visiting some of the workers there in person. So, on May 1 of this year, I started a support group on Hoopers Island for 17 women and also began meeting with individual women who have needs there.”

Garcia is serving as a bridge, connecting women to a variety of services, including mental health and rape crisis services at For All Seasons. She also provides education on self-esteem and helps women there become empowered and independent as some are in abusive relationships.

Because the crab-picking houses are very separate from each other in Dorchester County, Garcia decided she needed to do an event where she could reach all of the workers at one time to provide information on a variety of community services. She reached out to some employers on Hoopers Island, including GW Hall and Son, Russell Hall Seafood Inc., AE Phillips & Son, Inc, Lindy’s Seafood, and Old Salty’s Seafood to encourage their workers to attend. Some employers and individuals on Hoopers Island helped provide transportation for the workers so that they could participate.

Among the vendors at the Migrant Resource Fair were Mid-Shore Council on Family Violence, Dorchester County Health Department, Choptank Community Health, Mid Shore Behavioral Health, Inc., Maryland Food Bank, Aetna Better Health of Maryland, Chesapeake Multicultural Resource Center, University of Maryland Clark Comprehensive Breast Center, The Salvation Army of the Mid-Shore, Harriett’s House, and Talbot Humane. Vendors provided important resources including information on how to access medical and dental care, mental health services, health insurance, food, and clothing.

“We had a great turnout with both men and women attending. This was the first time that an event of this kind for the migrant community had been held on Hoopers Island and I am grateful for the volunteers who helped make it a success, including Nicolasa Hipolito who is also involved in our Latino Support Group. We were thrilled to be a part of it and to see the positive response from those who attended,” Garcia comments.

“I hope that we created a connection with these individuals and made them aware of the services that exist for them in Dorchester County. They come here legally and have needs occur while they are here working that can be served by these agencies. Hopefully, we can do this every year because every year they bring different people to the island who will need to know this information.”

For further information on For All Seasons Latino Outreach efforts, contact Ivy Garcia at Ivy Garcia igarcia@forallseasonsinc.org or call 410-822-1018, ext. 207.

For All Seasons provides the highest quality mental health and victim services to children, adults, and families across Maryland’s Eastern Shore. Services are offered in both English and Spanish and include therapy, psychiatry, victim advocacy, 24-hour crisis hotlines, outreach, and community education. For information about For All Seasons walk-in hours, contact For All Seasons at 410-822-1018 or visit ForAllSeasonsInc.org.

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