Children and Youth

Southside School to hold health fair for migrant students

Migrant children will receive health services, food, and prizes thanks to donations from the community. Local agencies will provide parents with resources available to them and their children.

The Southside School Migrant Program is seeing an increase in the size of local community donations for its annual Migrant Health Fair. And this year is not the exception.

Paula Bonilla from the Migrant Program and Elias Barocio, manager of the San Benito County Labor Camp, are organizing the June 29 fair to help families who have recently moved to the area with resources because if they have medicare or other insurance, it doesn’t work right away. The organizers also aim to make sure parents know about services available for the kids.

The health fair is for the Southside School migrant students, Bonilla said, but parents can also be screened.

“Because I work with the kids I see a lot of the struggle with not being able to read because they need glasses,” Bonilla said with tears in her eyes.

Bonilla added that people assume some children need special education because they cannot read, but sometimes all they require are glasses. She said she has worked in the migrant program for 39 years and took over organizing the health fair in 2008.

Other needs include informing families about dental hygiene, finances, and education. Bonilla wants to offer services to those who might need it.

”Some of them (kids) need glasses, dental and so we do that for them,” Bonilla said.

Last year, Bonilla said they made 300 hamburgers for attending families. This year she expects to have between 400 and 500 hamburgers for the fair. Vegetables and berries will also be provided.

Activities at the fair include a DJ, youth folklorico group Carisma Mexicano, raffles with prizes, and piñatas.

The migrant health fair’s growth is related to community outreach for donations to provide the migrant families with a fun time, while also providing medical and other resources, Bonilla said.

Migrant lawyers attended the fair last year to offer their services to the families and answer questions, Barocio said.

Some of the other resources that were available for migrant families were classes provided by First 5 San Benito about parenting, nutrition, and health education, said Early Learning Coordinator Wendy Ortiz. The organization also provided childcare to ensure parents had the ability to attend the classes.

This year, it will provide the equipment for Dr. Friedman to test families for diabetes and glucose levels. For the first time in fair history, a doctor will be onsite.

Other local organizations will provide information on their resources, such as the YMCA, Pregnancy Center, and Community FoodBank of San Benito. Representatives of a health clinic will also be in attendance and will provide some parents with car seats.

“It really is important for people to know we are here if they need us,” Juana Valdez, volunteer and outreach coordinator for Community FoodBank of San Benito County said.

Valdez said the FoodBank is more than just a source for food. She said they can provide diapers for families that need them. They can also direct people to shelters, pregnancy centers, or other resources that can help them with their needs.

She added that the FoodBank will provide grocery bags with bread and other produce. The organization will also help families register to continue to receive food.

“It is a way to show their support and offer services,” Barocio said about local organizations taking part in the fair.

Financial and food donors include the San Benito Farm Bureau, Tammy and Bob Erickson, Baler Market, Community Foundation for San Benito County,, Matt Waterman and Kyle Waterman, Cathy Alameda, and Sabor Farms.

Bonilla said that parents of former Southside School students who prefer to remain anonymous also help with resources for the families throughout the year.

The event is scheduled for Friday, June 29 from 2:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the Migrant Housing Center, located at 3235 Southside Road in Hollister.


Noe Magaña

Noe Magaña is a BenitoLink reporter. He also experiments with videography and photography. A San Benito High School alumnus with a bachelor's in journalism from San Jose State and a Liberal Arts Associate's Degree from Gavilan College. Noe also attended San Jose City College and was the managing editor for the City College Times, the school's newspaper. He also was a reporter and later a copy editor for San Jose State's Spartan Daily.