Earlier this year, Mary Potts became our Farmworker Services Division Director. She has spent many years with CHD and contributed to the Farmworker Services Division and the clients we serve. We asked her to take to some time to write about her story with CHD and what the work she does means to her. Please read her story below!
In 1995, I came to CHD (CHDC at that time) with true respect for the Farmworkers after the ranch I worked at was consolidated and sold to another company.
After moving from the Bay (San Mateo County) to the Valley (Solano County), I worked at a herb ranch in Dixon, CA, Integrated Ingredients, Spice Island/Durkee French. I was the assistant to the Ranch Manager and Inventory Control Manager. I worked directly with the Farmworkers (hand packers and field workers) assisting them with their needs, both professionally and personally. I was amazed by their dedication and will as they worked tirelessly in the fields; I advocated for them while they taught me the struggles they faced on a daily basis. My life work has been a mutual respect for the land they work on and the will they have to provide a better way of life for their families.
Coming from a very humble beginning, the daughter of a shoe repairman & homemaker, immigrant grandparents, and a single mother of two boys (one with health issues) gave me the drive to help fight for those less fortunate. I know what it is like to have barriers and not to have opportunities like others.
Along with the Farmworker Services’ Management Team, we have had the privilege to work directly with the founders of the corporation and learn from one of the greatest minds and visionaries that made the founders’ dreams come to life. For over 2 decades, I worked directly for Aurelio Hurtado, learned to stand up and fight for what’s right from George Ortiz, and was mentored by Chris Paige. As I stated before, Aurelio was the heart; George was the soul and Chris was the brain of this agency. I have been very fortunate to have such good teachers when learning about the Farmworkers’ needs. Being a part of such an amazing team that has dedicated their lives to giving back to the community they know so well and cherish in their hearts.
The Farmworker Services Division has helped thousands of agricultural workers improve their lives and the lives of their families by giving them a voice, providing them with the tools needed to find better jobs, and ensuring that those individuals that did not have food to eat or a place to sleep, had a meal and roof over their head for the night. However, there is still so much that must be done; there are thousands more that have not been reached. There are so many that live in fear; we as an agency must be there to pave the way.
As the first woman Division Director for Farmworker Services, I have a quest to lead by example and empower others to continue this mission.
“Be the Kind of Leader, you would Like to Follow” …. Mary Kay Ash