Helping Hands: Rotary Hears from Vecinos Farmworker Health Program & Welcomes New Member

on Sunday, 22 February 2015. Posted in Recent Programs

Program Recap - Feb. 11, 2015

Helping Hands: Rotary Hears from Vecinos Farmworker Health Program & Welcomes New Member

Amy Schmidt, a Sylva native and Executive Director of Vecinos, Inc., joined Rotary last Wednesday to give an update on the organization’s mission and work and the club welcomed its newest member Barry D. Caponi.

The Vecinos Farmworker Health Program was built on a vision of all North Carolina farmworkers having a safe place to work and live. Though North Carolina has one of the largest farmworker populations in the nation and 85% of the state’s fruits and vegetables are harvested by hand, the people who provide this invaluable service remain largely invisible. This is compounded by the fact that agricultural work remains in the top 5 most dangerous jobs in the country, with the lowest standards of protection.

It’s exactly this disconnect between the food we eat, the people who make it possible and the value we place on ensuring a safe work environment in which to do it that Vecinos hopes to address. To this end, Vecinos provides both health and advocacy services to farmworkers across four counties of Western North Carolina. These services include medical outreach, health education and case management assistance.

Due to the largely isolated nature of farm work, Vecinos needs to meet the workers in locations convenient to them. In 2004, Cashiers Rotary donated the funds for Vecinos to purchase a mobile medical unit in which to provide a safe and private environment for workers to receive the care they need. Rotary also donated EKG machines that help detect heart murmurs and other cardiac concerns that rank among the largest health risks to farm workers. Through pictures, Ms. Schmidt introduced the club to some of Vecinos’ clients who had benefitted from these services and shared some of the program’s recent success stories.

To learn more about Vecinos, please visit them online at

CashiersRotary NewMember BarryCaponiCashiers Rotary was also pleased to welcome its newest member Barry D. Caponi. Mr. Caponi is co-founder and CEO of Vectis One, an employment engagement consultancy that helps companies leverage their greatest asset – their workers.

The Rotary Club of Cashiers Valley meets every Wednesday morning at the Cashiers UMC on Highway 107. For more information, including how to join, please visit