Farmworker Children to Receive Angels’ Love

Angels of the Fields bring cheer to the Delta’s most vulnerable kids

Thirty donated bicycles, taiko drumming, carnival games, healthy food and goodies, pictures with Santa Claus, a Christmas stocking for every child and presents for all!  Volunteers with the charitable group Angels of the Fields are busy working miracles this week to prepare an all-out celebration of Christmas love! The December 3rd Christmas Carnival in the Sacramento Delta is by invitation only. This year, 90 migrant farmworker families with 250 children are invited.

“We want to make sure the children of farmworkers know that Santa has not forgotten them!” says Norma Koch of Angels of the Fields. “These are the children of parents who work hard all year long to pick the fruits and vegetables that feed our families. Yet, most live in poverty and some are even homeless. This is our chance each year to make sure they know they are loved… and we can’t wait!”

Angels of the Fields is now in its 16th year as a group of volunteers dedicated to giving back to farmworkers. The group operates under the umbrella of the California Human Development, which serves as fiscal agent. Generous community donations make the group’s charitable work possible.




Top Executive Christopher Paige to Retire

Northern California social service agency seeks CEO successor

Today, the Board of Directors of California Human Development (CHD) announces the upcoming retirement of Christopher Paige, chief executive officer and leading advocate in the fight against poverty for farmworkers and others across northern California. The announcement kicks off a search for Paige’s successor as he works closely with the staff and board on an orderly transition over the coming months. Paige’s decision comes as CHD prepares to celebrate it 50th anniversary next spring. His retirement, which is slated for July, brings to close a remarkable career beginning in 1975 as Program Planner and rising to take the top CEO reins in 2011.

“It has been my honor and distinct pleasure to work hand-in-hand with the staff and board of California Human Development and with our clients and partners for nearly the entirety of my professional career,” says Paige. “I am so proud of the work we’ve accomplished on behalf of farmworkers and many others who struggle to overcome poverty. To me, this has never been a ‘job’, but rather a passion and how I have truly wanted to spend my time,” adds Paige.

Paige leads CHD’s team of 240 dedicated staff in offices across northern California and serving people from 31 counties. The agency, which is a non-profit community-based organization headquartered in Sonoma County, helps those most at-risk to achieve self-sufficiency through training and employment, affordable housing, disABILITY services, immigration assistance, and residential and outpatient programs for drug-free living.

“Over the past 40-plus years Chris has brought immense dedication and energy to California Human Development, leading the charge to abolish conditions of poverty across northern California and advocating on behalf of hundreds-of-thousands of our state’s poorest residents,” says Emila Aguilar, Vice Chair of the CHD Board of Directors and Chair of the Search Committee. “We look forward to building upon the many successful partnerships and programs at the local, state, and federal level that Chris has helped establish during his tenure. We are deeply grateful for all he has done for CHD and those we serve.”

The Board of Directors has retained Leap Solutions Group, a Sonoma County-based consulting firm, to conduct a nationwide executive director search to identify Paige’s successor. Any inquiries about the position should be directed to Leap Solutions at The position description and requirements may be viewed on Leap’s website at:

Farmworker Family, A Story of Inspiration

Hard work, committed partnership, and perseverance; these are the hallmarks of the inspirational success story of Hilario and Carmen Payan—named 2016 Farmworkers of the Year.

Carmen & Hilario Payan, 2016 Farmworkers of the Year

Carmen & Hilario Payan, 2016 Farmworkers of the Year

Upon arrival to Sonoma County, Hilario and Carmen had big dreams and little else. Hilario went to work in the vineyards, working hard to make ends meet for his growing family while Carmen cared for their children. But tough times prevailed and Carmen soon realized that education was the ticket out of poverty for her familia. So, with Hilario working long hours, Carmen began taking classes at Santa Rosa Junior College.  She learned English, earned her Associates Degree and transferred to Sonoma State University where she earned a Bachelor of Arts Degree and then a Master’s Degree in Spanish. With Hilario’s encouragement and support, Carmen achieved success beyond the couple’s dreams, teaching Spanish at Sonoma State University and becoming a parent mentor and recruiter for Migrant Education. Through Carmen’s dedication and strong work ethic, migrant families throughout Sonoma County have been connected to Migrant Education’s vital services. During the holidays, Carmen volunteers to ensure migrant families have food and gifts. Together, she and Hilario have raised five exceptional children, including Joel, who is an engineer for Intel; Sofia, who is a Medical Assistant; Olga who has earned her Associates Degree, Maria, who is in a Masters Degree program with a dual emphasis in Special Education and Child Development; and Reyna, who has an Associates Degree and is working for AT&T.  Together, theirs is a shining story of immigrant success in Sonoma County and an inspirational example of what’s possible with hard work, dedication, and perseverance.

Hilario & Carmen Payan with the Board of Directors of California Human Development

Hilario & Carmen Payan with the Board of Directors of California Human Development

The Board of Directors and Staff of California Human Development are honored to name Hilario and Carmen Payan as CHD’s 2016 Farmworkers of the Year.