More than 600 students from across the state visited La Paz, where the Cesar E. Chavez National Monument is located, earlier this month for the 18th annual Day of Service, honoring the legacy of civil rights leader Cesar Chavez.
At the event, hosted by the National Chavez Center, students partake in community service projects to help beautify the grounds.
“We’re hoping kids come, and they can participate in maintaining the grounds, but more importantly they will be inspired by his example and go out and be of service to others in their community,” said Paul Chavez, the president of the Cesar Chavez Foundation and son to Cesar Chavez.
“The center to my father’s work was this idea that we have a responsibility to help others in need,” said Chavez. “It’s his whole call to be of service to others — so a day of service really is a tribute to that call to action.”
Students from Delano, Los Angeles and the Bay Area partook in gardening projects, such as pulling weeds, picking up trash and spreading mulch. Other students helped prepare lunch for the large group. Students also enjoyed live music.
“Today I learned why Cesar Chavez valued the beauty in nature so much” said Biviana Camacho, a student from Cesar Chavez High School in Delano. “Attending the Cesar Chavez Day of Service was a great experience. It shows how Cesar Chavez and his work brought so many communities together as one.”
Cesar Chavez, the founder of the farm worker movement, spent the last two decades of his life in La Paz before he passed in April of 1993. Paul explained why La Paz is a special place for his father.
“My dads’ life was full of conflict,” Paul said. “Every time he left this place, he would go to conflict and strikes and boycotts. His job was really being involved in conflict so it was important for him to have a place to come where he could recharge his low batteries and prepare for the future.”
Paul said he hopes the students realize his father wasn’t so different from them. He hopes the students learn if they put in hard work, they can achieve great things.
“He faced a lot of obstacles in his life,” Paul said. “He showed if you work hard and never give up, and if you have that ‘Si se puede’ attitude, you can make a difference.”
“Our hope is they will be inspired by his example, and this will be the first step of going out and being of service to others.”