Angels of the Fields Scholarship

Angels of the Fields’ Scholarship Recipient
From Orchards to a Different Field
by Sally Ooms

In a trailer, tucked between a Sacramento River levee and Bartlett pear orchards, Gabriela Leon Cerriteno talks about her 19 years of life to date.

She will embark upon a college career in four days. She’ll drive at least 45 minutes from this spot, her family home, to Cosumnes Community College classes that start at 7:30 a.m. She will work toward her hoped-for degree in psychology. While she would never demean her parents’ professions as farm workers, like so many rural kids, she wants to take a different path.

Her last semester up river at Clarksburg’s Delta High School, she did a project for her English professor and met professionals in the field of psychology. They piqued her interest. “Psychology is so broad, I could use the degree for anything. But I am leaning toward clinical psychology,” she says.

Gabby received a scholarship through Angels of the Fields, a Delta-based volunteer group that helps farmworkers, their relatives and their children with a variety of basic needs—from finding adequate and safe shelter and nutritious food to providing transportation, especially to medical facilities. There are no health clinics in the Delta.

In addition, Angels of the Fields hosts several special events for farmworkers. Their biggest is a free Christmas party with carnival-style game booths, presents for all, a visit with Santa and lots of food. All gift toys and clothing are new items, and are sometimes the only things the kids will receive for the holidays.

Gabby knows the event well. “We always signed up to go there,” she remembers. “In my sophomore year, I started volunteering and worked the carnival. I volunteered for three years, at a booth or handing out snacks.”

Gabby first lived in Locke, an old Chinese community 7 miles down river from their Courtland location. But when the family of two adults and three children grew by one, the house there was too small and they moved. All the children have helped their father in turn with various aspects of trimming trees and harvesting fruit. “December is the season to trim trees, but when I was little my Dad didn’t trust me with the scissors, so I picked up sticks and branches and lined them up for the tractor,” Gabby says. “This last year, I got a job with a local food truck. I worked there from Monday through Saturday, 10 to 6 every day. I don’t like asking my parents for money. Except, they will be feeding me still,” she laughs.

Gabby’s father works for nearby Amistad Ranch where he does irrigation and pruning. She knows a lot of the workers at Amistad because they were so close. “In the summers, we would go for lunch break and hang out, or bring water. We were their little angels. And we helped them out in the winter season too.”

She sees her father now taking on what she calls “double work” because he has had to train to do a lot of new technology. He also is responsible for training others. “Pipes break down. He has to show them how to repair them.” Her mother started working outside the house about four years ago picking fruit. “She goes from place to place. You never know where she’ll be working—with my brother to pick pears, or grapes, kiwis. She picks cherries. We have green tomatoes and avocado trees here. That’s her job at home.

“Sometimes she switches to pear tree pruning. My brother and I would work with the two

Gabriela Leon Cerriteno

of them and we brought my younger brother and sister, just to show them that it was not easy. I used to have longer hair. One day it got stuck in this huge spider web. (She swirls her hands around her head). I said, ‘I’m done.’ I told them: ‘I’ll clean the house. I’ll make it sparkle. I will do my homework, but no more pruning.’ Then, when they were leaving to prune, they would tell me, ‘You do well in school or we’ll take you.’”

Gabby was born a year after her mother came to the United States from Mexico. “I was unexpected. They were not prepared,” she lets on. “I am their experiment here.”

Gabby says she was not too outgoing in high school. She has friends but none of them really come from a farm life like she has. “I liked Latino Club. I was in that for three years. I really liked helping out, but we never went on any trips.”

In May, she went on her own to visit her parents’ hometown in the state of Michoacán for two weeks. “I saw relatives I’d never met. All the family. There are barely any here (in the U.S.). My cousins are very young and I was the only girl. Lots of boys.”

Now she hopes to travel far and wide. “I want to travel the world, make a difference, especially in small communities.” But first Gabby plans to finish her bachelors at the University of the Pacific, and then pursue her dream of a doctorate in psychology.

Angels of the Fields contact information:


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Farm to Every Fork 2017

Farm to Every Fork Benefit Helps the Hungry, Urban Growers, Farm Workers

By Sally Ooms               

Click for tickets and sponsorships

The fourth annual Farm to Every Fork benefit dinner is coming up, with money going to help those in our community who are facing food insecurity. The three beneficiaries this year are Oak Park Sol, Delta-based Angels of the Fields and the Sacramento Homeless Organizing Project (SHOC), which publishes Homeward Street Journal.

The dinner has a change of venue and will be at St. John’s Lutheran Church, 1701 L Street, from 5-8 on Sept. 9. Go to to donate, become a sponsor or buy tickets. The event includes hors d’oeuvres, wine and beer followed by a healthful, gourmet dinner. Other features are a silent auction with amazing offering, and a raffle with equally fantastic prizes. Sister Libby Fernandez, director of Mercy Pedalers and formerly head of Sacramento Loaves and Fishes, will be the guest speaker.

David Andre, an active member of Sacramento’s homeless community, told me about the edible garden SHOC has newly sponsored at the corner of 13th and C streets. Andre dubs himself “Main Waterer” at the garden, which is loaded with organic plants producing “tons” of cherry tomatoes and squash at the moment. He says the garden supplies lots of fresh produce for the Community Dinner Project at City Hall every Tuesday, to the people who tend the garden, and for neighbors who are volunteer cooks and create meals in their homes to share.

The 20×100 foot plot is owned by Cat Williams, a SHOC board member, who donated it to the cause. Andre says about five people are instrumental in growing, watering and weeding right now. “People come and go” but all learn the concept of team building and how important it is to grow organic food. “We use a more enlightened concept for weeding,” Andre says. With water conservation in mind, garden members leave many of the weeds and discourage them by adding mulch layers on top. Andre is a fan of using cardboard for mulch layers as well. He likes that they are recycling cardboard in the process.

The garden also offers a place for people who own houses in the area to wander around. “They enjoy it,” Andre says. “We are giving them land to walk on. They can spend a whole afternoon in the garden if they want to.”

Andre also has contributed fruit trees to the garden that he personally sees to. He is a Sacramento native and when he lost his house, he put his peach tree into the back of his truck and grew it there. “It was my statement,” he says. “I made friends that way too.”

Now he gives trees away, like fruiting mulberries taken from cuttings of ancient trees in Miller Park. It has been a pursuit since he was a baby. He created a ceramic piece he calls “Baby Head” and put it into the peach tree. “As the tree grows, I grow.” You might say he is like Johnny Appleseed, except he deals in already sprouted trees of many varieties. “It’s one of my callings.”

Andre’s next endeavor is to introduce small peppers into the garden. The pepper plants are direct descendants of plants his great great grandparents brought from Spain at the turn of the last century. “They have not been hybridized,” he says proudly. Thus they fit the concept of the SHOC garden—to keep things biologically pure.

Visitors to the garden are welcome. Come see what kind of joy a nice plot of urban land can bring, along with bellies full of great food.

Community Dinner Project serves food every Tuesday before Sacramento City Council meetings. The garden donates produce to them. photo by David Andre

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SHOC Update

Dear Friends of SHOC, 
City of Sacramento officials have decided to move forward establishing a policy that Sacramento Police Department officers are not to confiscate the survival property of anyone living outside. This decision itself comes after years of advocacy from SHOC and others and tragically, two deaths on City Hall property in January. We are thankful the City wants to take steps forward. The root of these confiscations lies in Sacramento’s Anti-Camping Ordinance, as it is there where items such as sleeping bags, tarps, and bedrolls are defined as unlawful camping paraphernalia and their use or the use of a tent, defined as unlawful camping.

We know these items help our neighbors to survive the elements and that we’ve ever had these anti-homeless laws on the books is shameful. The city is building a policy through the City Manager’s office and using General Orders to the police to implement. This means they will not address the ordinance or the status it gives to these items as illegal. People will continue to receive citations ($230!), bench warrants and at times, arrest for the possession of these life saving items and existing in public space, even if their things are not taken.

Call City Manager Howard Chan today, 916-808-7488, and your district council member. Thank them for their intention, and remind them that continued criminalization is not the answer! Encourage them to make decisions that are rooted in the voice of people experiencing homelessness, who’ve been fighting for far too long for the right to survive, to exist, and have property. This policy shift will likely be on Tuesday’s City Council meeting agenda, so get those calls in!

Cause We Care – We are excited to share that we’ve entered Uptown Studios’ Because We Care Challenge, you can vote for Sacramento Homeless Organizing Committee, once per day up until March 15 to help us win a marketing/technology grant worth thousands of dollars!! Hit the link to vote and watch our one minute video. This expertise and support from Uptown Studios would be life altering for our almost 30 years strong, grassroots organization, so please vote now! Cause We Care
SafeGround StakeDown – Lastly we’re proud to announce SHOC’s 3rd “SafeGround Stakedown” encampment event on April 1st! We will be in solidarity with National Coalition on Homeless, calling for meaningful, affordable housing, an end to anti-homeless laws and policing, and a Safeground. This event, a one night, two day encampment. will raise awareness, build community and offer a safe place to be for some with no other option and we need your support! We need tents and sleeping bags, bring us your illegal camping paraphernalia! We need snacks, coffee and water. We will also be providing food, access to water and bathrooms, and activities throughout the two days, so any monetary donations are much needed and welcome, to donate click on the Donate Button below or Here.

For the Sacramento community, we know April 1st is the day that Winter Sanctuary ends, it’s also the day funding runs
out for the new warming centers at 11th St. and Wind Youth Services, which means it is the day that our neighbors are hitting the street again. Help us raise this awareness. This year’s event is being planned by SHOC and the Sacramento Youth Council, both groups comprised of homeless and formerly homeless leaders. We are excited to partner with young people as we push for a better future! We will have art, music, discussion panels and more! Please take the time to support our work!

In Solidarity, Niki Jones

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SafeGround StakeDown


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Poor People’s Campaign


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Canceled March Thursday

We had a march scheduled for Thursday, 12/15/16, from Loaves & Fishes to City Hall to welcome Mayor Steinberg to his position. We are canceling the event because a big storm is expected to hit us that day with rain and high winds. It would be a miserable walk for the few that would probably show up anyway, so we thought best to cancel the event altogether. We apologize for the cancellation and are very sorry for the bad weather.

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Homeless Advocates March


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News on City Hall Protest

Protesters occupying outside of Sacramento’s City Hall for the #Right2Rest has been ongoing since December 8, 2015. Its against the law to live outdoors, to be homeless in a city that does not have enough shelter beds and housing for everyone. This protest has changed the conversation that is usually artfully avoided. I don’t need to say more – read:

(For more links to news on mostly homelessness – )

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National Hunger & Homeless Awareness Week

Press Advisory – November 18, 2015
National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week
2015 focus on criminalization of homelessness
Contact: Paula Lomazzi, Sacramento Homeless Organizing Committee, 916.862.8649Untitled-1

This is National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week. Communities throughout the nation are participating in this year’s weeklong event with various actions and campaigns. The event organizers have deemed the criminalization of homelessness as the focus of this year’s event, quoting the National Coalition for the Homeless campaign webpage “For this year’s H&H week we are focusing on the laws passed by local governments around the nation which prevent people experiencing homelessness from doing life-sustaining activities.”

Recently, very important voices of authority have called out for the decriminalization of homelessness. The US Department of Justice has determined that criminalizing homelessness is unconstitutional, and results in cruel and unusual punishment. To quote their August 8, 2015 press release “It should be uncontroversial that punishing conduct that is a universal and unavoidable consequence of being human violates the Eighth Amendment. . .  Sleeping is a life-sustaining activity—i.e., it must occur at some time in some place.  If a person literally has nowhere else to go, then enforcement of the anti-camping ordinance against that person criminalizes her for being homeless.”

The United Nations’ Human Rights Committee recently warned that criminalizing homelessness was “cruel, inhuman, and degrading”. The UN’s International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (CERD) called for the US to “abolish” laws and policies that criminalize homelessness and that we should create incentives to push for alternative policies. The US Interagency Council on Homelessness advised local governments against criminalizing homelessness because they create additional barriers for homeless people, fail to increase access to services, and undermine the impact of service providers.

This year, Housing and Urban Development (HUD) brought this question forward to homeless continuum of cares across the US in their NOFA application. As you are probably aware, they release this application every year for funding housing that serve homeless populations. In this highly competitive application, two points will be awarded to communities that can show they have implemented strategies that prevent criminalization of homelessness, further fair housing, and perform specific outreach.

These statements and pushes come none too soon, as laws against the condition of being homeless continue to increase… spite of the push back from local advocates and residents of conscience…in spite of the growing and overwhelming evidence that homeless people have not suddenly or miraculously become housed because it was against the law to not be housed or sheltered. Homeless shelter and housing programs continue to be insufficient to the needs.

Sacramento has one of the worse laws against the act of being homeless, Title 12-52. It actually defines the prohibited act of camping as “living outdoors”. This law has in effect made it against the law to be in such poverty that one cannot afford to pay rent and happens to live in a community that has inadequate resources for its homeless population. In utter inconsistency with reality, this ordinance actually makes it against the law for “any person to store personal property, including camp paraphernalia, in the following areas, except as otherwise provided by resolution of the city council: A. Any public property; or B. Any private property without the written consent of the owner.”, never distinuishing a homeless person committing these acts from a person that wants to store their bicycle in their cousin’s garage–without written permission.

These laws that criminalize homelessness are reminiscent of outdated laws of the past that sought to exclude people of color (Jim Crow Laws), or people with disfiguring disabilities (“Ugly Laws”), or people of a certain economic status from entering the State of California (“Anti-Oakie Laws”). In all those cases of past injustices, those laws were overturned with the help of the Federal Government. It looks like the Federal Government is again having to intervene in local jurisdiction’s unjust policies.

Along with this pressure from the Federal Government, communities across the nation are now saying enough is enough, that they no longer will tolerate their city treating people so poorly, cruelly and unjustly. We all want an end to homelessness. Making laws against homelessness does not help to end homelessness, and in fact makes it harder for individuals to get out of homelessness.


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Support for Captain



James Little – Captain

James Little, better know as “Captain” was cited for illegal camping a few weeks ago. He lost his ticket and immediately asked the courts system when he was supposed to appear. They could not give him that information and said they would only have that information after it turns into a warrant. And now he is being tried for failure to appear and could face jail time. He has a jury trial on November 3 at 8:30 AM.

When cited for camping, Captain had no tent, no blanket, no other camping gear. He was laying down on one of the carts that he builds. The trailer and his tools that he uses to make carts for other homeless people were also taken. Captain is 54, and did have a job at the Sacramento Union as a printer before the paper went out of business.

Captain has no other income now except recycling. Captain is known and loved in the community. He has received hundreds of camping tickets over the years. Captain was jailed a few years ago and nearly lost his dog, Lucky! We need to support Captain and let the city know that we will not tolerate the harassment of senior and disabled homeless residents!

Please show up and show your support for Captain! Thank you!

by Suzanne Hasting

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