UPDATED: Salinas hospital honors grower-shippers(UPDATED COVERAGE March 4) SALINAS, Calif. — The Agricultural Leadership Council received the Natividad Medical Foundation’s annual Hero Award to hono grower-shipper contributions to farm worker healthcare in the Salinas Valley.

In a recent two-month fundraising campaign, council members raised $214,400. About 80% of the Natividad Medical Center patients are farm workers or have other ties to agriculture.

The council, founded in 2010 by John D’Arrigo, president of D’Arrigo Bros. Co. of California, has raised $820,050 in three years, mostly for new equipment. But the recent focus has been on providing interpreters for a diverse patient population.

“We have 62 languages spoken in the hospital,” said Linda Ford, foundation president. “In the Salinas Valley there are 28,000 people from Oaxaca. A third of the people arriving here are from Oaxaca or indigenous.”

“A lot of the doctors couldn’t communicate with the Triqui and Mixtec speakers,” D’Arrigo said.

The effort so far has trained 36 indigenous language interpreters who are working in hospitals across California, Ford said.

For D’Arrigo, who said he’s routinely 20% to 30% short of the labor his company needs, supporting the hospital has become more important.

“The agricultural community is trying to do something to take care of farm workers, their families and healthcare needs,” he said. “We survive on the work they do with us in these fields. Our work force is dwindling.

“This is just one way to give back and also help us at the same time by keeping them healthy,” he said. “If their families are taken care of here, then you have a much more contented worker.”

The Agricultural Leadership Council started off with 22 members and has grown to 116.

Among others on hand to share the honor at the Feb. 28 reception were Mike Antle, executive vice president of Tanimura & Antle; Steve Church and Tom Church, partners in Church Bros. LLC; Dennis Donohue, president of Royal Rose LLC; Sammy Duda, vice president of Duda Farm Fresh Foods; and Joe Pezzini, chief operating officer at Ocean Mist Farms.

“This is the typical example of what I’ve consistently observed in our industry, that where there’s prosperity there’s generosity,” Donohue said. “It’s great to see the whole industry gathered around it.”

The award ceremony followed a preview of an art exhibit. Members of the Monterey Bay Plein Air Painters Association depicted grower-shippers’ operations through a production season. Half of the proceeds from sales of the paintings will benefit the hospital.

The exhibit is dubbed “Plein Air Art: From Field to Fork.”