United for One Mission: End Hunger

Margarita Romo

Margarita Romo

Executive Director of Farmworkers Self-Help Inc.

Executive Director of Farmworkers Self-Help Inc.

Margarita Romo is the founder and Executive Director of Farmworkers Self-Help, Inc. (FSH), a grassroots organization organized by farmworkers and former farmworkers in 1982 in Dade City, Pasco County, Florida, and which facilitates the self-development of farmworkers and other poor, through programs of education, advocacy, organizing, justice and empowerment, and health. She is the only woman directing a farmworker organization in Florida. She organized AWING (Agricultural Women Involved in New Goals), the first farmworker women’s organized initiative in Florida, and developed the Norma Godinez Arts and Education Center, as well as Mi Otra Casa (My Other House) FSH community teen center, designed to address the education needs of farmworkers and other poor and provide an alternative to the gang activities in the northeast section of Pasco County. Through Margarita’s vision and efforts working alongside families of the communities that she and FSH serve, la Casa de Esperanza y Salud(house of Hope and Health), a free health clinic for farmworkers, has been in operation at FSH in Dade City since 1994. She was also instrumental in the creation of a farmworker clinic in Gretna, Florida. Margarita has traveled extensively throughout North America and other countries in furtherance of her mission to improve the quality of life of farmworkers and other poor. She is a recipient of the Robert Bannerman Award given to distinguished activists of color, the Clairol Award given in recognition of accomplishment by women over the age 35, and the Cramer-Fisher Award given by MAZON: A Jewish Response to Hunger, recognizing accomplishments toward alleviating hunger and poverty. Margarita is a past member of the Florida Education and Employment Council for Women and Girls; Pasco County Juvenile Justice Council, Pasco Arts Council, Girls Initiative of Pasco County, Pasco County Sherriff’s Council; Youth as resources, Pasco County, and was appointed by the Governor of Florida to serve eight years as a member of the health and Human Services Board of Children and Family Services for HRS District Five, encompassing Pinellas and Pasco counties in west central Florida. Margarita has worked with legislators throughout the year and during legislative sessions over the years in Tallahassee and Washington D.C. to effect passage of laws to improve the quality of lives of farmworkers and other poor. She has assisted in coordinating learning activities for visiting groups of teachers from poor areas of El Salvador, Peru and Honduras. Margarita is an alumnus of leadership Pasco Class of 1995, was honored by the Girl Scouts as a Woman of Distinction in 2000, and became an ordained minister in 2003. In 2010, Margarita was honored as Hispanic Woman of the Year by the Tampa Hispanic Heritage Foundation. In 2013, she was selected by Florida Governor Rick Scott to be the first Mexican-American woman inducted into the Florida Civil Rights Hall of Fame. In 2014, she was honored as a Public Health Hero by the Florida Department of Health, in recognition of her significant contributions and exceptional commitment to protect and improve the health of the people of Florida. In April 2015, Margarita was awarded the 2015 Sapphire Award in the Individual Category from the Blue Foundation of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Florida, for “demonstrating excellence and innovation in the field of health,” and “making significant positive impact on health-related outcomes for Florida’s at-risk people and communities.” (Video can be viewed at Florida Blue website, 2015 Sapphire Awards.). Margarita also received the honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters during graduation commencement at St. Leo University in San Antonio, FL. In November 2015, Margarita received the Lightning Community hero Award from the Tampa Bay Lightning Foundation in recognition of her life’s work for her service to farmworkers and other poor. In April, she was acknowledged and honored as a recipient of the Pasco Hernando State College Distinguished Alumni Award. As always, Margarita continues to travel to the state capitol in Tallahassee and to Congress and other venues across Florida and the country and works tirelessly against poverty and prejudice to improve the quality of life of Florida’s farmworker families and other poor and their succeeding generations.