Building Trust in Loxley
The ECMHSP Loxley Center in Loxley, Alabama, welcomed more than 40 children on Monday, May 7. The families we serve work with a variety of crops, such as: sweet potatoes, potatoes, strawberries, corn, green beans, and peppers. Dignora Bonilla is confident that in the upcoming weeks, more than 100 children will fill the center with joy and laughter, especially since a third person has been recently added to her team to help with recruitment.
Dignora came to U.S. from the Dominican Republic at the age of 16. She joined the East Coast Migrant Head Start Project family in 2009 as an Assistant Teacher at the Loxley Center. About a year later, she was appointed as the Family Services Coordinator. During the last nine years at ECMHSP, her passion of serving farmworker families has allowed her to grow professionally and take advantage of the educational opportunities.
Dignora Bonilla, Family Services Coordinator at ECMHSP Loxley Center, enjoys reading to the kids.
Dignora shares that new families tend to have a difficult time at the beginning of each season, which is the reason why it’s so important for her to build trust the first time she meets with them. A couple seasons ago, she recalls a single mother dropping off her four-year-old child on the first day. They both hugged each other as they cried their eyes out. The woman told Dignora that she wasn’t sure about leaving her son anymore. Dignora comforted her by saying she would keep a close eye on her son. “Your child is safe with us. Please allow us to place him on this path to school success,” said Dignora. About 10 minutes after the child’s mom left, Dignora found him in the playroom interacting and laughing with the other children, so she sent mom a picture to give her peace of mind.
The Loxley Center children are really excited to participate in crazy hair day.
What is the key to her team’s success with our farmworker families? Respecting their values, being culturally sensitive, and always reminding them of the organization’s open-door policies. Farmworker families at the Loxley Center are immigrants from Mexico, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Guatemala. When asked about the uniqueness of her center, Bonilla points out that the Loxley staff is very dedicated. “We make things happen. Our center is the priority, so if we need additional training to cover a different position, we do it,” says Dignora proudly. All teams come together to ensure that they provide high quality services for our farmworker families. Stay tuned as the Loxley Center continues to advocate for more farmworker families.