Western Service Workers Association celebrates 49th anniversary in the Sacramento area | Way of life

Western Service Workers Association (WSWA) Sacramento on July 29 celebrated its 49th year in the Sacramento area, including Elk Grove.

This all-volunteer, unincorporated, private, community-based organization focuses on helping low-income domestic and service workers and their families.

Adhering to their motto, “In Unity There Is Strength,” WSWA Sacramento invites professionals, business owners, clergy, and students to help those in need through a benefits program free in 11 points for low-income workers.

This program, which aims to reverse the conditions of poverty, is made possible thanks to strong support in local communities.

Features of the 11-point benefits program include emergency food and clothing services, preventative medical care, non-emergency dental care and legal advice.

Elena Sanchez, full-time volunteer organizer and director of operations for WSWA Sacramento, praised Elk Grove’s support of the organization’s efforts.

“We have a strong base of support in Elk Grove,” she said. “It is very important, because our organization extends to the whole region, and we could not do it without this support.

In celebrating the longevity of WSWA Sacramento, Sanchez spoke about the people who started this organization.

“Our organization was founded by domestic workers – as they were called at the time – domestic workers, and from day one no other interest except the workers themselves has been served. by WSWA,” she said. “So it (was) founded by and for the lowest paid workers in (the region), starting with domestic workers.”

Sanchez pointed out that it is the independence of WSWA Sacramento that allows this organization to achieve its many goals to help low-income working members.

“No government funding at all, and then no funding with strings attached,” she said. “Since 1973, it has always been by and for low-income workers.

“We say that when a wrong is done, there is a group of people who are harmed and no one knows better than them what a solution looks like, because they suffer from a lack of a solution. So we want the guiding star, so to speak, to always be the one most affected by the problems.

Derek Bruner, administrative assistant for WSWA Sacramento, told this newspaper that the organization’s 49th anniversary is a testament to the strength and resilience of this organization.

“We’ve been around since 1973 and we haven’t closed our doors once, especially throughout the pandemic,” he said.

Sanchez mentioned that this organization remains strong through a very difficult time in its history.

“In a very difficult time in our country, we can always come together with people from all walks of life to celebrate both the victories, but also to get motivated for the work ahead,” she said.

Sanchez added that it is important for WSWA Sacramento to support the United Nations’ 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which promotes peace, sustainable development and efforts to eradicate poverty, including extreme poverty.

“We defend them, we support them, we promote them,” she said.

In appreciation of its many supporters, WSWA Sacramento hosted an anniversary dinner with an evening of entertainment and messages of gratitude for the longstanding efforts of those who have worked to continue and expand the success of this organization.

Performers at the July 29 event included DJ Sabor Latino, keyboardist Kevin Sumner, singer Ingrid Tejada and the Sacramento Brazilian Center for Cultural Exchange. Flavio Soria was the master of ceremonies for the celebration.

While standing on stage at the event at Midtown Church at 19th and W streets, Sanchez shared some details about the Western Service Workers Association Sacramento.

“Our membership is now over 41,000,” she said. “Our central office is located just south of Oak Park (in Sacramento), in a building acquired for the benefit of our members, along with an acre of property that gives us more room to grow, and we are growing.

“Since 1974, we have maintained a field office in (the Sacramento neighborhood of) Del Paso Heights, the Workers Community Service Center.”

Sanchez added that in 1977, the organization’s Workers Benefit Council recognized that there was an urgent need for affordable, quality health services for domestic workers and families of low-wage workers.

“(As a result), volunteer doctors and other medical professionals have formed (the) Coalition of Concerned Medical Professionals, or CCMP, as an all-volunteer association to demand the right of low-paid workers to (obtain) access to comprehensive medical care,” she said.

Sanchez praised CCMP for helping members of his organization “through thick and thin” during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Elk Grove resident Orlando Fuentes, who is director of the Cosumnes Community Services District, attended the celebration as a member of the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), the largest and oldest organization in Hispanic members in the United States.

Fuentes explained why he is drawn to the efforts of the Western Service Workers Association Sacramento.

“Western Service Workers serve the poor and the poorest of the poor, especially those who fall through the cracks,” he said. “I really admire the work they do. They are basic people. Nobody gets paid, it’s a voluntary organization and they do great things.

Bernie Buenrostro, who is also an Elk Grove resident and member of LULAC, spoke about his organization’s support of WSWA Sacramento.

“We’ve been supporting them for many years – maybe as many as 10,” he said. “We collect clothes and provide clothes to their organization. They help the working poor. We are in favor of that. We like to help in any way we can.

Dave Roland, a Sacramento Municipal District strategic planner, told this newspaper that attending the July 29 event gave him a greater love for the community and WSWA Sacramento.

“Beautiful humanity on parade,” he said. “Because of the excitement and warmth of the event, I was truly moved to engage and support the workers’ association as they unite, work and pull each other through. their own ways.I’ve been volunteering (for WSWA Sacramento) since 2019 and it’s been a really good thing in my life.

“They may be small, but they are mighty.”

For more information about the Western Service Workers Association, call (916) 456-1771 or visit the website, www.WSWASacto.org.

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