CHICAGO – Today Paul Chavez – grandson of labor and civil rights leader Cesar Chavez – joined Lieutenant Governor Pat Quinn to launch the Cesar Chavez Day of Service and Learning and commemorate the March 31 birthday of Cesar Chavez. Quinn and Paul Chavez highlighted the service projects of the more than 30 participating schools.
“The Cesar Chavez Service Learning Program encourages an ethic of service and civic responsibility in young people,” said Quinn. “This program helps to develop character, create leaders and instill a sense of stewardship.”
Quinn and Paul Chavez were joined by John Schmidt, Director of Service Learning for Chicago Public Schools, Tim Leahy of the Chicago Federation of Labor, Curie High School students, and 2nd grade violinists from the Josefa Ortiz de Dominguez School.
In January, Quinn and Julie Chavez Rodriguez, Chavez’s granddaughter, organized the Educating the Heart Workshop which provided over 150 education and community leaders with information and materials to develop a service-learning program that exemplifies the values and principles of Cesar Chavez while addressing real community concerns.
“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.”
A new Web site, ChavezServeandLearn.il.gov ,
has been developed to link schools and community agencies on community service projects. Interested educators can download lesson plans directly from the site and find links to helpful volunteer opportunities.
Cesar Chavez was a labor leader who dedicated his life to improving the wages and working conditions of farm workers. Chavez was a labor organizer, civil rights crusader and 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.