Cesar Chavez

Tell us what you did
to help Cesar's cause

"My free family planning project in the central California valley"

After eight years in South America, my family and I returned to California in 1957. I began to volunteer as interpreter for Spanish-speaking clients of Planned Parenthood/L.A. in 1959. The director of that agency recommended me for a position with the noted St.Louis philanthropist Joseph Sunnen, who was visiting various agencies and projects in California in order to find someone who would be willing to develop a project of distributing a non-prescription method of conception control to underserved, low-income women all over the state.
I began this work in L.A. housing projects and other poverty areas by knocking on doors and offering EMKO foam to families of every ethnicity. I also sought clergy members in area churches to assist me in reaching women of their congregations who might be interested. Before long members of The Migrant Ministry asked me to travel to the San Joaquin Valley and visit farm labor camps, offering my services.
The response was overwhelming.. Word of mouth spread and I was invited to numerous meetings of women and couples to explain the program. I would distribute EMKO right there and then as well as re-order cards for additional supplies.  Needless to say I met some of the most wonderful families anywhere. Many of them had never seen a gringa who spoke fluent Spanish, let alone someone quite open about the subject of pregnancy prevention. I heard from some of the women for several years.
It has to be said that some of the living conditions of farm workers were atrocious. Many of these families were lacking in health care, sanitation, resources the rest of us take for granted.  Clergy members of The Migrant Ministry were certainly doing all they could with limited means. Avoiding the arrival of further hungry children made a difference.
Since those remarkable days I have not personally purchased grapes and other products from the area. The memories have simply been too disturbing. I’m now 89 years old and don’t remember details of marches and boycotts clearly, but I have always supported the UFW cause.
Thank you for this opportunity y viva la causa!
Elizabeth Canfield