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Friends of Seasonal and Service Workers (FSSW) is...
… a free and voluntary, private, unincorporated membership association of community activists, students, seasonal workers, clergy and other concerned residents. We are dedicated to materially assisting seasonal, farm and service workers struggling for collective solutions to their poverty conditions through their own independent, community-backed organizing efforts.
Membership in FSSW is open to all who desire to build a vehicle through which concerned individuals and groups can help publicize the plight, and contribute to the positive actions, of seasonal, farm worker and service worker organizing drives. FSSW volunteers give of their time, skills and resources to help fight for improved living and working conditions in our lowest-income communities. By necessity, this began with and continues to this day to include fundamental survival needs such as emergency food, clothing and preventive medical care to help make it possible for low-income workers to take on organizing campaigns for long-term change.
FSSW volunteers aid in production of publications, carry out community outreach and other means of publicity about low-income workers organizing efforts. FSSW volunteers also participate in enlarging the resources and involvement necessary for expansion of critically-needed benefit programs built by organizing drives of low-paid workers. FSSW has no paid employees, provides no form of remuneration to its staff from top to bottom, accepts no government funding nor any moneys with strings attached, and instead exists only through the dedication and generosity of its membership. Outside its stated goal, no other aim or aspiration is being served.
FSSW was established in April 1982 by a group of individuals in the Portland, Oregon area who had been doing informal support work for low-income worker organizing drives since the fall of 1981.
Annual Campaigns and Events
Winter Survival Campaign
Valentine’s Day Chocolate Truffle Benefit
Farm Worker Summer Campaign
National Labor Federation calendar production and poster insertion
My name is Yone McNally. I’ve lived in Portland for over 30 years. I grew up in a small town in western New Jersey. The primary employer there was a steel mill that closed down in the 1970s. I left in the early 1980s and came to Oregon for school. I worked for the State of Oregon after graduating.
I first met some of the dedicated volunteer organizers of FSSW at the Food Front in Hillsdale shortly after the 2016 election. I donated some food items and spoke with FSSW organizers about what FSSW does for seasonal workers. I participated in my first neighborhood food drive in February 2017. I have helped sort donated Columbia Sportswear for distribution to members of the organizations we support, made tamales and truffles and delivered holiday food boxes. I have volunteered weekly in the office for about 2 years now. I type and file cards, send out letters to potential supporters and volunteers and do other office work. It might not sound like much, but I know it is work that needs to be done and that makes me feel useful.
I volunteer with FSSW because I want to be useful. For me, it’s not about following my “passion” but about finding a place where I’m needed. And I do feel needed at FSSW. FSSW goes out of their way to let you know just how much they appreciate your help. All of those I’ve met at FSSW are kind and generous people.
What I like about volunteering at FSSW is that they let you be as involved as you want. If you can only help from time to time, you are welcomed and appreciated. If you want to be a full-time organizer, you are welcomed and (much) appreciated. Whatever your skills are, there is something for you to do.
I have been very fortunate in life, probably more than I deserve. Working with FSSW is my small way of giving back.
I first learned of FSSW when I visited their office as a salesman for a telephone company. I was so impressed that they had no executive salaries or any paid staff that I knew I had to get involved. I took my son with me and we went with FSSW to assist with Western Farm Workers Association in Hillsboro. We visited two farm labor camps and got our eyes opened to workers living in eight-by-eight spaces with no running water.
I became a regular volunteer driver and on my way to drop-off my son at school we would stop at New Seasons market and pick-up donated food for the farm workers association. It became part of our regular Thursday mornings.
What I find astonishing about FSSW is that they set these expansive goals and then they meet them. FSSW helped Western Farm Workers Association renovate their office, FSSW needed a permanent office and you found it and made it happen. FSSW sets goals and works to make them a reality… and it actually works. Why can’t our country do that?