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Fiesta marks Parkdale Head Start's 30th anniversary

PARKDALE -- The award came value-added at a festive, sun-soaked celebration Saturday.

"She is a great friend," a tearful Juanita Dominguez said of Helen Halliday. "She doesn't ask for anything in return." Dominguez and others hugged Halliday, now 90, one of the first volunteers with Parkdale Migrant Head Start program.

Both women received honors from the Oregon Child Development Coalition (OCDC) for their long-time work for the Parkdale program.

About 400 people gathered on the Community Center baseball field to mark OCDC's 30th anniversary. The first Migrant Head Start program in the state, the Parkdale program has served children of the upper valley since 1967. It came under the state wing in 1971. Besides day care, OCDC programs such as Parkdale's provide dental and medical assistance along with counseling and classes in English and driving.

The Dominguez family, owners of the successful Juanita's Tortilla Factory in Pine Grove, were honored for supporting employees' access to Head Start services for the past 15 years.

Also honored were orchardists Gene Euwer and Dorothy Aubert, for their support for day care outreach to the fields, long-time volunteer Lennie Mueller, and former county commissioner Jerry Routson.

Parkdale Head Start director Sally Packer-Akin called Halliday "the heart of the program," who was instrumental to starting it in 1967 and served in many ways ever since.

Saturday's event featured a copious lunch, a Mariachi band and other music, and a soccer tournament. Officials from throughout the state included Juanita Santana, director of the Wilsonville-based OCDC.

"In my 12 years with OCDC I have seen this program grow and improve so much," Santana said. "It is exciting to be here celebrating today. This program has for 30 years been serving our grandchildren in the state of Oregon."

OCDC is the largest child development and child care network in the state. Services are provided through a network of private and public organizations, in particular agricultural enterprises. It is funded primarily through the Oregon Department of Health and Human Services, which supports the Oregon Migrant Head Start Program.

At Saturday's event, OCDC board member Mitch Martinez, who is bilingual, opted for help from translator Linda Torres, saying, "I'm nervous enough about getting up to speak I don't think I could do it in two languages.

Martinez said he know from direct contact with programs around the state that families are grateful for the services provided by OCDC day cares.

Torres, who deftly handled both languages, drew laughter from the crowd when she twice "translated" in the language just spoken.

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