Twenty Years of Partnership: Ramona De Loera and East Coast
Ramona De Loera never had an easy life. She is one of ten children and from the age of eight, her parents brought her to the fields where she helped with the work however she could. As she grew older, balancing her school work with farm work became more and more difficult. Ramona failed the ninth grade because her parents pulled her from school for weeks at a time to help the family in the fields. By the time she reached senior year of high school, she knew she wouldn’t be able to continue migrant farm work if she wanted to graduate. When it was time for her family to migrate upstream, she stayed in Florida and worked three part-time jobs to keep contributing to her family. Although there were many obstacles, she graduated with the help of wonderful mentors at her high school.
Ramona is very involved in her children’s education. She regularly visits our Migrant Head Start Center in Wauchula, Florida.
Ramona became a mother twenty years ago, in 1998, when her daughter, Esmeralda, was born. At the time, Ramona was a farmworker and it was impossible to find a reliable and affordable care for Esmeralda. Ramona’s life changed for the better when she learned of East Coast Migrant Head Start Project’s Migrant Head Start Center in Chandler Mountain, Alabama. There, Esmeralda would receive wonderful care from Head Start teachers and would get a head start in life by becoming a dual language learner.
Ramona attends an event at our Migrant Head Start Center in Wauchula, Florida. She had the chance to dress up as one of Mexico’s beloved TV personalities, la Chilindrina.
A life of farm work can take a tremendous toll on the body. In 2006, Ramona was picking oranges in Florida when she started experiencing intense pain from transporting sixty pounds of oranges down a 20-foot-tall ladder. Weeks later, Ramona would have her hernia surgically repaired and would no longer be able to perform this type of farm work. She’s still working hard in the fields. However, she’s now responsible for the irrigation and weeding of orange trees in Florida, which doesn’t put her at danger of getting another hernia.
Ramona was present at the National Migrant & Seasonal Head Start Association’s 2018 Public Policy Forum.
Ramona is the mother to seven girls ranging in age from one year to twenty years. Two of her girls will be enrolled in our Migrant Head Start Center in Wauchula, Florida this upcoming season. Ramona proudly serves on our Policy Council as Vice President and on the Board of Directors of the National Migrant and Seasonal Head Start Association. When we asked about her 20-year experience as an ECMHSP parent, she said, “To me, East Coast doesn’t feel like someone who is providing services to my family. Instead, I consider them a friend who is constantly giving me a hand. I’ve been blessed to be part of this organization.” We consider ourselves the lucky ones to have such a great leader among our parents. Thanks for your trust these past two decades, Ramona!