A small group of students ranging in age from eight to 16 got together last week and the week before to tour Cloverdale’s water and wastewater plants and met this week to help with food distribution at the Cloverdale Citrus Fair — the series of tours and volunteer opportunities was organized as part of Cloverdale’s 2021 Days of Service and Learning, in honor of César Chávez.

“The objective is to get kids to understand what municipal services are and what happens when you turn on the faucet or when you flush the toilet,” said Vice Mayor Marta Cruz, who helped plan the Day of Learning and Service. Cruz began organizing the Days of Learning and Service in 2019, shortly after she took office. “Also, for them to see that there are alternative careers to the traditional professional jobs, and that they’re important to any other professional job, like water technicians, plant administrators and so on. It’s important for them to see other alternative technical careers.”

Cruz spoke to the Reveille prior to the second student tour and said that, during the first tour, students were engaged and inquisitive about how Cloverdale’s water plant works. She said that she’s hoping this event is one of many that might pan out for young people in Cloverdale.

“Parents are really happy about this kind of event and are looking forward to more events like this, either to celebrate a particular event or person or just in general, we do need more events for our youth,” she said.

Since COVID-19 has made it so the tour groups had to be small, groups of seven students at a time were welcomed into each plant for a tour. Students spoke with and received informational presentations from people who help run Cloverdale’s water and wastewater plants, and got to tour the individual facilities.

“Because we wanted to make sure that children of farmworkers are understanding of the reality of agriculture and water and their impact on water also, we chose children of the members of La Familia Sana,” to participate in the events, she said.

La Familia Sana is a recently-formed local organization that helps provide health and wellness through education, support and advocacy to Latinx and Indigenous communities in northern Sonoma County.

While both this year’s and last year’s events honoring César Chávez were made smaller as a result of the pandemic, Cruz said that she’s looking forward to next year, when hopefully larger groups will be able to get together again.

“Last year we had fun planning an (event that was) very good and more expansive and inclusive of the whole community and we had to cancel it because of COVID,” she said. “It’s been difficult thinking about what we’re going to do to continue to promote the importance of the Day of Service and Learning.”

“I started this to make sure that people get encouraged and feel good about celebrating their heritage and the accomplishments of Latinos in the U.S.,” Cruz said of the history of the Days of Service and Learning.

To go along with the event, Cruz said that small scholarships are available for high school seniors whose parents are farmworkers. Those who are interested in receiving more information about the scholarships can contact Cruz directly or can contact their academic advisor.

“We really want to emphasize the importance for farmworker children to be able to get interested in training after high school,” she said. If not enough high school seniors apply for the scholarships, it will open up to students who are currently enrolled in junior college, trade schools or in college to receive scholarships.

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