Cesar Chavez is one of the most revered civil rights leaders in the history of the United States. From humble beginnings in Yuma, Arizona, to the founding of the United Farm Workers (UFW) movement, Cesar Chavez dedicated his life to the struggle for respect and dignity for the farm workers of America. On October 8, 2012, President Barack Obama announced the establishment of the Cesar E. Chavez National Monument. Currently, the 116-acre monument is located among the Tehachapi Mountains in Keene, California, which was once the headquarters for the UFW movement and the home of Cesar Chavez, his family, and supporters. In an effort to promote Northwestern students to better serve the Evanston and Chicagoland communities and to celebrate the life of Cesar Chavez, my fraternity, Omega Delta Phi, hosts a day of service every spring in his memory.
Four years ago, my Big Brother Anthony Iglesias was sitting on his freshman seminar history class when his professor began to lecture about the UFW movement. During the class, several of the students whispered to each other, “Who is Cesar Chavez?” Anthony, a native of Los Angeles where Cesar Chavez Day is one of the largest celebrated holidays in California, was so appalled that he sought to take action. After months of preparation, networking, and organizing efforts, the first Cesar Chavez Day of Service was held on Saturday, March 31, 2011. Since then, every year more than 95 volunteers from across the Midwest have served the communities of Evanston, Pilsen, Back-of-the-Yards, Northbrook and Skokie. Sponsors and partners have included the Northwestern Latina/o Studies Program, the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life, the Department of Hispanic/Latino Student Affairs, the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (ICIRR), Uniting America, Evanston Public Library, Forest Preserve District of Cook County, Holy Cross/Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish, and the St. Pious Soup Kitchen of Pilsen.
My fraternity has two goals: to serve the community and to graduate our Brothers. Every quarter, each Brother is required to complete 20 hours of community service. In fact, our fraternity has the most community service hours of any organization on campus. By sharing our passion for community service with others, we are able to give back to the surrounding communities by utilizing our talents and efforts.
–Daniel San Gambino