Ben Hernandez sees a lot of himself in the children of farm workers who live on the South Coast. The 65-year-old rancher is descended from immigrant farm workers himself.
That’s why Hernandez donates to Puente: it’s personal. “Puente is capable of opening eyes and giving opportunities to the youth of farm worker families that they would never otherwise have had,” says Hernandez, who has lived in San Gregorio for more than two decades. Two years ago, he became a monthly sustaining donor to Puente.
Hernandez knows from his own childhood how rare, and exceptionally valuable, those opportunities can be. He and his older sister were the first in their family to graduate from university. His father worked two jobs to make that kind of life possible for them, and his parents pushed their kids hard to succeed.
“My dad and grandparents, they thought education was the most important thing that could possibly happen,” recalls Hernandez.
Hernandez’s life has some echoes of the agricultural legacy he inherited from his grandparents on his father’s side. They were migrant workers for years together, harvesting grapes and other crops all around Southern California. His grandfather was a Mexican immigrant from Chihuahua who eventually worked his way on to a railroad company in Los Angeles.
Hernandez grew up in Los Angeles and went to UC Irvine, but found the rural life suited him the most. Today he and his partner raise certified Red Angus cattle on a picturesque seaside property. He is also a watercolor artist who derives much of his inspiration from the agricultural landscape that surrounds him. But his is not an untouched landscape. It’s life, as he knows it. He’ll paint a field where people work, and he’ll also paint the farm workers.
Hernandez says Puente shares his passionate conviction that the low-income, immigrant workforce deserves everything Puente can provide: education, career options, health insurance, immunizations, hot meals and financial assistance. These actions extend a sense of self-worth to a community that struggles every day. That’s work he says he’s proud to support.
“It took me two generations to realize my real potential,” says Hernandez. “Puente gives this same realization to the community they represent, without having to wait decades to accomplish each individual’s potential.”
To donate to Puente through May 6, please visit http://svgives.razoo.com/story/Puente-De-La-Costa-Sur
All future gifts, please visit https://donatenow.networkforgood.org/puente