Pat Farquhar grew up on a farm in Ohio. And even though her life is pretty different now – she lives in urban Foster City and works at Verizon – she’s never forgotten the place she left behind. More than a decade ago, learning about the lives of farm workers in Pescadero sparked a relationship with Puente that continues to this day.
“I know what hard, physical, repetitive work is like,” says Farquhar. “I don’t think people know what the physical tasks are that these people do.”
Farquhar has donated a fixed amount to Puente every year since before 2002, a portion of which is matched by Verizon, her employer. Other Puente donors have had the same idea over the years – Symantec, Genentech and other local companies also have employee matching gift programs that allow Puente to maximize each gift.
Executive Director Kerry Lobel says she’s grateful for every single donation. “We’re constantly trying to find ways to stretch the giving that we have,” she says.
Farquhar’s introduction to Puente came from founder Rev. Wendy Taylor, a former pastor at the Congregational Church of Belmont. Rev. Taylor took Farquhar and other congregants on her behind-the-scenes tours of farm worker encampments, barracks and trailers. These housing sites were well off the beaten path, and seeing them was deeply affecting.
“That was eye-opening,” reflects Farquhar. “I was totally unaware of it – the conditions that people were working and living in.”
She was also deeply influenced by Rev. Taylor’s recent memoir, “No Longer Strangers: The Practice of Radical Hospitality,” which provides an account of the early days of Puente Ministry.
Over time, Farquhar has watched Puente grow from a church-based effort to funnel lifesaving essentials to single migrant workers on the coast, to a community-based nonprofit focused on improving the lives of every resident.
“It’s pretty remarkable… If you look at a decision that one person like Wendy can make, and how it all unfolds,” says Farquhar.
To donate to Puente, visit https://rally.org/puente. To learn more about how you can involve your employer in a matching gift program with Puente, contact Kerry Lobel at firstname.lastname@example.org or (650) 879-1691 x 144.