We three standing up here today are a reflection of what this country has to offer. It is a reflection of what this community has to offer and it is a reflection of the kind of impact you all have on this organization. One of the biggest issues we face today is immigration and the ability for immigrants to find a position in this country! Allow me tell you a bit about why I am so passionate and proud to be from immigrant parents.
In 1984 my parents took the bold move of a crossing the border in Tijuana. They handed my then two-year-old sister, Betzy Chavez, over to one set of coyotes and each of them proceeded to enter separate cars themselves. Adrenaline running through there bodies and logic eluding them. It wasn’t until they crossed to this side and they were handed Betzy that they realized: that could have been the last time we saw each other – ever. And here we are now! My parents had three children: all of which were beneficiaries to our local community and school system. But the bottom line is this: my parents would not have had the guidance, access, or knowledge if it weren’t for La Luz Center.
My mother’s first experience working in this country was in having to clean a huge house in an expeditious manner. Sixteen hours of work crammed into a 6 hour deadline to then only be handed $10. Now, I know the dollar and its value have evolved since the eighties but I am sure we can all see the issue with that exchange. My father would work two shifts daily on a dairy farm where we lived. We were poor, my parents were tired, but they were resilient and on a mission to provide something better for us than what they had as youth growing up in Mexico.
To this day, it is close to impossible to out work my father, Salvador Sr. That is considering that I work tirelessly for my family and for this community. I work to prove that we should all accept our history and roots with pride and honor. Today in front of you see three generations of Salvador Chavez’s. Each representing different experiences and yet all of us a piece of La Luz provided opportunity. You have all provided for my parents, for me, for him. To my parents support, to me empowerment, and to my son the legacy of both of those pillars.
My goal as a parent is to instill in my sons the values that my parents did in us. To have them share an equal balance of humble with a strong presence of confidence. Confidence and presence but to ultimately embrace what is the core of our reality and existence: we are offspring of ambitious and courageous pioneers to this country.
As our shirts on the Fourth of July proudly displayed: We are all immigrants and together we can all make a difference in this country.
Sal Chavez is a member of the La Luz Board, and Trustee of the Sonoma Valley Unified School District representing El Verano.