Three Day Laborers Crowned Kings for a Day

Posted on January 9, 2018 by Alice Kenny  |  Share

Their faces creased by decades of heaving cinderblocks and stones in the sun and snow, three day laborers arrayed in robes with crowns painted gold led the Three Kings Day celebration organized by Catholic Charities NY on Saturday, January 6 in St. Peter’s School gym in Yonkers.

What began seven years ago as a small celebration for men who wait on street corners in sub-zero weather with hopes of landing a job for the day morphed into a major party for them and their families filled with traditional dances, dignitaries, volunteers and Catholic Charities staff.

Catholic Charities Executive Director Msgr. Kevin Sullivan led prayers before a feast of pasta, salads and breads donated by Fidelis and United Health Care.   New York State Secretary of  State Rossana Rosado  joined in the festivities with New York State Director of Hispanic Affairs Melissa Quesada, Senator Andrea Stewart-Cousins, Assemblywoman Shelly Mayer, Yonkers City Council Minority Leader Michael Sabatino and more. 

And most important to the day laborers’ children still bundled in their winter coats on this 4-degree day, Yonkers Police Captain Patrick McCormack helped distribute hundreds of gifts.  Squealing with glee, children chose from piles of dolls in pink baby carriages, toy trucks that lit up, Barbies and puzzles donated by Empire City Casino plus school supplies donated by the Governor’s Office.

Three Kings Day, also known as the Feast of the Epiphany, commemorates when the three wise men arrived with gifts to welcome the baby Jesus.  For those present, as for most children from Spanish-speaking nations, the day is as important as Christmas.

Catholic Charities helps day laborers earn a living, contribute to society and become part of communities.  We provide educational workshops, leadership training, and opportunities for economic empowerment including classes in skill building, job safety, English literacy and GED preparation as well as support with immigration, lost wage recover and social services.

Despite challenges posed by poverty, language and discrimination, the Three Kings Day celebration marked an opportunity to celebrate local day laborers’ achievements facilitated by Catholic Charities including:

  • $53,827 recovered in wage theft
  • 278 workers earned 10-hour Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) certificate
  • 42 men and women took classes in building maintenance, how to start a business, how to read, and how to bake and sell breads
  • 70 participants in Know Your Rights Immigration workshops
  • 129 workers participated in community service
  • 120 jobs referrals made
  • 42 new members obtained  Obreros Unidos Identification cards
  • 20 women empowered by special meetings and sewing-for-sales projects

Check out our Three Kings Day Facebook photo album

Learn more about Catholic Charities NY free services for immigrant workers


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