Cady Kuzmich, Staff Writer
SUNY Oneonta senior Jami Haynes had wanted to go on a cross country bicycle trip for quite some time. She finally found her inspiration after learning about Harvest of Hope (HOH), an organization which works to mitigate the troubles faced by migrant farm workers. Haynes, a childhood education major, learned about HOH in class with Professor Madeline Berry where she and her classmates planned to raise funds and awareness for the organization. HOH works to supply migrant farm workers with emergency financial assistance, critical social services, educational financial assistance and scholarships. Sure to be both challenging and rewarding, Jami seems more than ready to kick off this adventure and hit the road for a worthy cause.
Jami contacted Phil Kellerman, President of HOH, and the two began planning right away. After telling her family about her summer plans, Jami’s older sister decided to get involved too. Jami and her sister will spend about eleven weeks bicycling across the country to support HOH. The Haynes sisters will be hitting the road at the end of May and will be traveling by the TransAmerica and Western Express routes towards San Francisco. They plan to camp most nights, stay at family and friends’ houses whenever possible and cook most of their meals.
Cady: Tell me about Harvest of Hope. How did you first hear of the organization and what made you want to get involved?
Jami: I first found out about Harvest of Hope through a service-learning component for a social studies education class I am taking with Madeline Berry. As a class, we planned to raise funds and awareness for the foundation. After we learned more about how migrant farm workers contribute to our lives on a daily basis, I was touched by the work that this foundation does, and wanted to make this my cause for a bicycle trip I’d wanted to take for years. The Harvest of Hope is a unique foundation that provides migrant farm workers with emergency funding, health care assistance, housing and transportation assistance and other hardship expenses. I contacted the President, Phil Kellerman and gave him my seedling of an idea and we began planning right away.
C: How are you working to get the word out about your trip?
J: After I told my family my plans, and the foundation, my sister decided that she wanted to join in. We started planning fundraisers and have completed several since the idea came about. My sister and I have been advocating for migrant workers and have been raising funds for the Harvest of Hope for a few months now. We’ve held several bake sales and I did a presentation about the foundation and the trip at an education seminar in the beginning of April. As a class we also held a raffle at the mall in Oneonta, so we spread word about the foundation as we solicited for donations and raffle ticket purchases in town and on campus. My sister and I are holding a spaghetti supper May 4 and will be holding a presentation about migrant farm workers and the U.S. geography at our local elementary school.
C: A cross country bike trip…that’s pretty ambitious! Are you a big biker or is this new territory for you?
J: Before we began training for the trip, neither of us had really ever been huge on biking. In the summer we’d take occasional leisurely rides and would ride to work quite often. We’ve both always been pretty active: hiking, running and skiing and have an enormous sense of adventure, so the trip is fitting. Since the plan has begun, we’ve logged several hundred miles in preparation and have just begun towing the loaded trailers on some of our rides.
C: How do you plan on staying in touch with everyone back home during your trip?
J: We plan to be in contact with several media groups along the way to raise awareness and talk about the trip, and we also have an online journal at www.crazyguyonabike.com/sistahbikers.
C: What are your hopes and expectations for this trip?
J: We’ve had a tremendous amount of support from the Oneonta area, and from my local community in Schoharie. We hope this support and excitement follows us along the trip as we raise awareness and advocate for the foundation and for migrant farm workers.