It was the winter of 2001, two weeks until Christmas. Gretchen Moore was driving her car around the corner of Milwaukee and Belmont on her way to the dentist when she saw a group of 120 Hispanic immigrants standing in the cold. "Many with triple sweatshirts," she says, "without proper shoes and no winter scarfs."
On the way back she stopped, and asked the men what they were doing there? Their first reaction was distrust; they asked her if she was a police officer. Someone who spoke a little English said that maybe she was a social worker, to which she replied "no". Finally, she learned that the men were Day Laborers. "I said 'but it's almost Christmas,' "no one will hire a worker," says Moore. "And another worker said 'but we're hungry.' I had never been told by a grown man, 'I'm hungry.' Moore wanted to know more about them. She took five men for coffee at Dunkin 'Donuts. "There were two men from Ecuador sitting across from me," she says, "they were 20 years old, and had arrived barely two weeks ago." Moore thought about how hard it must be to move to Chicago from a tropical location in December. The men said there were seven of us when we left, the rest died. '' I made an effort not to cry, "recalls Moore.
She immediately proceeded to collect winter jackets, calling relatives and gatherd used clothes to deliver to these men. Thus, began Moore's work on behalf of immigrant Day Laborers.