Feathered Bastard

Help Sal Reza's Macehualli Center Thursday by Eating at Applebee's

Phoenix human rights activist Sal Reza's Macehualli Day Labor Center at 25th Street and Bell Road is in dire financial straits, and you can help by eating at one of two Applebee's locations Thursday, December 10. 

As part of Applebee's Dining to Donate program, the Phoenix restaurants at 2 East Camelback (Central and Camelback), and at 2547 N. 44th Street (just south of 44th Street and Thomas) will donate 10 percent of sales from those patrons mentioning that they are grabbing some grub on behalf of the Tonatierra Community Development Institute for Centro Macehualli.

As that's quite a mouthful, just say you're there for Tonatierra. That's the magic word.

There's no discount, but by dining at one of these Applebee's, using their curbside services, or imbibing a few cocktails at the bar, you'll assist Reza in making his $5,000 a month payment on Macehualli, which offers a space for jornaleros (day laborers) to wait for work.

The nearly seven year-old work center has aided the surrounding Palomino neighborhood, keeping the jornaleros off the corners and out of the hair of local businesses. Crime is down in the area as well, and most local businesses support the center. Keenan Strand, owner of the nearby McDonalds is a long-time booster of the site.

The only problems have been from the hateful nativists who've been picketing the site and harassing the day laborers for years now. Without them, there would be no conflicts or disruptions. Their presence, however, ensures a steady stream of venom and provocation.

Currently, Macehualli has fallen prey to the same economic downturn that's killed the housing market. Reza owes hundreds of thousands of dollars on his mortgage, and many of the center's former financial backers have stepped away, citing their own financial troubles. As a result, the property Macehualli now sits on is up for sale.

Reza tells me that the center likely will make it to its seventh birthday party on February 1. After that, he expects he will have to close. Though the nativists will cheer Macehualli's demise, the neighborhood will undoubtedly suffer as a result.

Tomorrow is also International Human Rights Day, which marks the anniversary of the United Nation's adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948, a charter midwifed in part by Eleanor Roosevelt. What better way to commemorate the anniversary than by aiding Reza's work center, which treats day laborers with dignity and respect that should be granted all human beings?

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Stephen is a former staff writer and columnist at Phoenix New Times.
Contact: Stephen Lemons