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Every Person is Essential and You Can Help Secure Your Neighbor's Future #ImmigrantsAreEssential

This is a sponsored post on behalf of Moms Rising. All thoughts are my own.

When I was a little girl growing up in New Jersey, just thirty miles or so outside of NYC, I lived in a melting pot of people and cultures. At every turn, there were so many different sights, sounds, scents, and of course, people. My neighborhood was incredibly mixed with large populations of Caucasians, middle eastern people, Jewish families, and more. My next door neighbors were Indian, and I often played with the little girls who lived just a few feet across from our second story multi-family house.

My own family is rich in different ethnicities. My dad's family is very heavily Italian- my grandmother being a first generation American after her parents came over to the United States from Italy. My husband's family hails from Austria, so as you might imagine, our roots are deeply sown in foreign lands. Culture is a huge part of our lives, and living in North Carolina, where my family settled nearly twenty-five years ago, it's a bit of a different world when it comes to diversity and appreciating various types of people and their cultures. When we became parents ten years ago, we knew it would be up to us to raise our kids to have a love and appreciation not only for own our family history and culture, but for others' as well.

Italian, Austrian, French, Scottish, Welsh, Irish... all rolled into one beautiful family.

Why culture matters

We have taken every opportunity available to introduce our kids to their own family's culture. This includes a lot of cooking, introducing various languages at home, taking family trips to explore places our families are from (since coming to the US), and even making points to visit the Statue of Liberty, and Ellis Island. I can't help but get a little bit misty when I imagine my family coming through Ellis Island after first arriving in the United States.

In our own city, we do have strong cultures present and there is quite a bit of diversity, though it does seem to be the minority. When we made our plans as to where in town to live and raise our family, we chose to remain in the center of the city, close to downtown, rather than out in the country, living on sizeable lots of land. We live in an historic neighborhood, where there is rich history, and we are close to various downtown businesses.

Local farms and their workers are essential to the wellbeing of our communities.

One of the best parts of living close to downtown is the diversity present among people and businesses. Just down the street is a small restaurant, owned by a Spanish family. Next door, a Black-owned business which serves the community. On the other side is a bakery, offering baked varieties from all over the world, with many European specialties. A farming community business resides at the end of the block, and around the corner is an Islamic center for folks in our city.

If you drive out just a few miles in any direction, you'll be met by lots of land, and can see workers out in the fields on the farms, working to provide local communities with fresh produce. Drive back into town, and Main Street is filled with shops and restaurants, including a bustling community coffee spot owned by my beautiful friend Evelyn, whose family hails from Guatemala. 

When I stop to see the real beauty in my city, it goes much deeper than the historic buildings and freshly landscaped lawns. None of the best parts of my city would exist without someone else migrating here from another place-  from another country and making their dreams become reality.

What the COVID crisis really means for essential workers in the US

It's no secret that COVID-19 has brought its share of chaos to the United States, many of us left wondering if things will ever go back to normal. We've been forced to have to rely on one another, more than ever, and take a stand for what's right and just. When it comes to a global health crisis, survival of the fittest, or the wealthiest seems to come to the forefront, but where's the justice in that?

We rely on immigrants more than we know. From farmers to healthcare workers and local business owners, immigrants are essential to our communities, and to our lives. Our immigrant friends and neighbors play a huge role in America's recovery during this unsettling time. Their contributions to society have been indispensable, and our government's response to the COVID crisis should undoubtedly reflect this. 

In my state of North Carolina, foreign born folks make up over 11% of essential workers, and 10.9% of the entire labor force. That's a pretty staggering amount.

It has to come from somewhere...

When I stop to think about where the food on my table comes from, I can always imagine the hard workers out in the fields, harvesting crops that will nourish my family. 70% of farmworkers and 40% of food packers are immigrants.1 in 6 nurses and 1 in 4 physicians are immigrants. They are putting their lives on the line daily.  I have the option to stay home during this pandemic, and work my normal job, receiving the same pay as I did before the world changed due to COVID. My immigrant neighbors may not have that option, and as a fact, many of them do not have that option, as they return to work in their respective fields- agriculture, healthcare, etc., putting their lives at risk every day. It's time to take a stand and remember that they are essential to our lives, and deserve the same protection and care that you and I do.

My family table- filled with goodness and nourishment, thanks to essential workers in our community.

Remember when I mentioned the importance of my kids knowing where our families come from? It's also important to me and my husband that they realize where the things we have come from- or who works to provide these everyday essentials for us. My grandfather was a farmer- I have deep appreciation for those who work to tend the fields, tend to the livestock, and package our food. When we drive out to the country and see workers in the fields, we give thanks for them and the work that they do... but it's not enough. We have to do more than just that to make sure they are protected and can feel safe and secure.

Will you join me in doing something that will really make a difference?

My daughter before her surgery in January of 2020. We're thankful for the healthcare workers who helped our sweet girl on her road to recovery.

If it wasn't for the heroic essential workers in our community and beyond, we certainly wouldn't have what we have. I shudder to think what the earliest days of the COVID crisis would have been like, had these heroes not worked day and night, risking their lives to provide the rest of us with food and healthcare security. Now it's time for us to ensure their safety, as well.

You can make a difference!

Will you take just a few seconds to sign this Moms Rising petition to implore Congress to include immigrants in COVID relief packages?

For more information, please visit: https://www.momsrising.org/

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