Ag Leadership Council gift boosts hospitalSALINAS, Calif. – Salinas Valley grower-shippers reached for their checkbooks Feb. 16 to help a hospital whose patients include many farm workers.

The Agricultural Leadership Council donated $240,050 to Natividad Medical Foundation in a reception at Natividad Medical Center.

The council formed two years ago at the initiative of John D’Arrigo, president of D’Arrigo Bros. Co. Participating companies are up from 77 last year to about 100 now, and include all the area’s major grower-shippers.

The gift will buy equipment for Natividad Medical Center’s surgery ward, emergency room, neonatal care, adult intensive care and maternal and infant units. It upped the ante on last year’s donation of $201,000, and brought the council’s total giving to $602,050.

“If you would have told me in 2010 that I’d be standing here saying we’d raised $600,000 for the hospital, I just wouldn’t have believed it,” D’Arrigo said. “But that’s the agricultural community, our ag family, vendors and suppliers ... We really want to give back.”

Growers were on hand to present the check to Linda Ford, foundation president. Operated by Monterey County, Natividad Medical Center is one of California’s 15 public safety-net hospitals, now in its 126th year.

D’Arrigo presented the foundation’s fifth annual Hero award to Community Foundation for Monterey County to Dan Baldwin, foundation president, accepted. D’Arrigo and his parents, Andrew D’Arrigo and Phyllis D’Arrigo, are past recipients of the award. The family also funded construction of a special services unit at the hospital.

“The TALC’s mission to improve the healthcare status of farm workers and their families is ringing true throughout the valley,” John D’Arrigo said. “We’re suffering worker shortages every day, so we need to take care of these folks. They’re the backbone of our industry.”