The Rotary Club of Sylva recently donated $1,400 to Vecinos Farmworker Health for medical supplies to be used in two mobile medical clinics in the case of emergencies while serving migrant farm workers in local fields and migrant camps.

The Rotary Club is well known for funding local projects, like the large and inviting play structure in Poteet Park.

They also offer scholarships to young people attending local educational institutions. But the Rotary Club’s famous Four-Way Test for making decisions about potential projects could also be a motto for the kind of work that Vecinos Farmworker Health proudly conducts, and which makes both the Rotary Club of Sylva and Vecinos Farmworker Health exemplary nonprofit organizations in our region.


The Four-Way Test:

1. Is it the truth?

Vecinos Farmworker Health works directly with essential workers who are vital to the economy, even though they may be guest-workers, and so not entitled to the benefits of U.S. citizenship.

The truth is that these essential workers are necessary to all of us, but also face very dangerous working conditions that may include exposure to pesticides and other toxic chemicals. Our community recognizes this truth, and so the Rotary Club of Sylva and other generous funders give to support the human beings who put food on our tables and provide Christmas trees to make the holidays brighter.

2. Is it fair to all concerned?

The Rotary Club of Sylva has long supported projects that include everyone in our ethnically and economically diverse community. Similarly, Vecinos Farmworker Health brings needed medical attention directly to those who may feel excluded from, or even threatened by, a medical system that does not understand them.

Vecinos patients identify 100 percent as Hispanic and 97 percent fall at-or-below 150 percent of the Federal Poverty Level. Vecinos aims to break down barriers to caring for this marginalized population by providing the culturally competent medical attention that all people need.

3. Will it build goodwill and better friendships?

With the active support of the Rotary Club of Sylva and many other contributors, Vecinos Farmworker Health reaches beyond migrant-worker fields and camps, to the Spanish-speaking community of our region as a whole. Vecinos Farmworker Health envisions a world in which people from different backgrounds understand and support each other as we move beyond differences in order to see the good in all of the languages and cultural traditions that give meaning to our lives. Through the work of Vecinos, our community is recognized as being remarkably welcoming and supportive to migrant farm-workers, even in very difficult times like these.

4. Will it be beneficial to all concerned?

As the current pandemic shows, everyone benefits when all have access to health care. With the help of the Rotary Club of Sylva, Vecinos is working to extend medical care to everyone, and to prepare for emergencies when they occur. By recognizing and addressing the human costs of agriculture, we can support the people who put food on our tables, and so spread the benefits of our food-system to everyone, particularly those most at risk.

Ted Coyle teaches anthropology at Western Carolina University and is a board member of Vecinos Farmworker Health.