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January 30, 2004


CHICAGO- Today Lieutenant Governor Pat Quinn joined with Julie Chavez Rodriguez (Chavez’s granddaughter) to announce the Cesar Chavez Day of Service and Learning, a program that will integrate community service and academic study to enrich learning and encourage civic engagement.
Chavez Rodriguez facilitated the Educating the Heart Workshop to provide over 150 education and community leaders with information and materials to develop a service-learning program that exemplifies the values and principles of Cesar E. Chavez while addressing real community needs.
“Cesar Chavez once said, ‘a lasting organization is one in which people will continue to build, develop and move when you are not there’,” Quinn said.  “The spirit of Cesar Chavez – ‘Si se puede’— or ‘Yes, we can’ lives on in the hearts of everyone concerned with social injustice. We want to continue to celebrate that legacy.”
Quinn and Julie Chavez Rodriguez will call upon educators and community organizations to participate in the Cesar Chavez Day of Service and Learning, which is geared toward K-12 students who – through academic instruction and community service projects – will learn the importance of service to others and the difference they can truly make.
 “During the week of March 31 – Chavez’s birthday – students across Illinois will learn the importance of community service by serving at soup kitchens, volunteering at nursing homes, cleaning up parks and planting gardens,” said Quinn. “In light of Cesar Chavez’s concern with hunger, our main focus is to address Illinois’ own hunger crisis through service at local food banks and soup kitchens or by organizing classroom food drives.”
Quinn’s Web site, ChavezServeandLearn.il.gov has been developed to link schools and community agencies to partner on a community service project during the week of March 31st. Interested educators can download lesson plans directly from the site and find links to helpful volunteer opportunities.
“This initiative encourages an ethic of service and civic responsibility in young people,” said Quinn, noting that, “every community is unique, therefore this is a flexible program that allows each school the freedom to decide what qualifies as a needed service, where it is needed most, and how much time they intend to give.”
Cesar Chavez was a labor leader who dedicated his life to improving the standard of living, wages and working conditions of farm workers.  Chavez was a labor organizer, civil rights crusader and a war veteran who joined the U.S. Navy in 1945 and served in the Western Pacific at the end of WWII.  Founder of the National Farm Workers Association, which later became the United Farm Workers Union (UFW), Chavez’s tireless commitment opened untold doors for disenfranchised migrants and workers.


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