Good Afternoon Friends and Amigos fills need for Plant City Farmworkers


Good Afternoon Friends and Amigos fills a big need for Plant City Farmworkers

Credit: 10 Tampa Bay//An afterschool program in Plant City serves farmworker families. ( Author: Kathryn Bursch

Published: 5:27 PM EDT April 17, 2024, Updated: 10:45 AM EDT April 18, 2024

Airdate: April 20, 2024

PLANT CITY, Fla. — When the school day ends at Robinson Elementary, about 40 kids walk, run and hopscotch their way to Good Afternoon Friends and Amigos, an after-school program serving primarily the families of farmworkers. “This service is super-duper important for these families,” said Program Director Mary Torres. “If this program wasn’t here, these children would be home alone.”

Aiden Bautista is in second grade and each afternoon — has a ball. “So, when I go to Friends and Amigos, I play outside and play soccer,” the 8-year-old said. Each day this bi-lingual program serves up a wide-variety of activities. There’s yoga with breathing and calming techniques, help with homework, sports activities and a meal.

Aiden’s mom loves the free program, because it means her son is in a safe place while she works long hours picking local crops. “I work in the fields, picking strawberries, squash, watermelon, cantaloupe, you name it,” said Petronila Vargas, who lives in Dover. “We come home tired and late and here in this program, they help him with his homework.”

Good Afternoon Friends and Amigos is run by Gulf Coast Jewish and Family Community Services. It also receives funding from the Children’s Board of Hillsborough County. There is also a GAFA program at Reddick Elementary School in Wimauma.

Torres has been with the program from the start and for her, the young faces that are in her care every day — truly are her Friends and Amigos. Torres say, “This program is so amazing and for me, it is the joy that I find every day!” 10 Tampa Bay and our parent company TEGNA’s Foundation are happy to support GAFA with a $2,000 grant.

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to reflect that there also is a GAFA program at Reddick Elementary School in Wimauma

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Through our programs, resources, and community partners, we assist nearly 40,000 people annually. One-third (1/3) of those we serve receive help from more than 1 program area.