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July 22, 2009 > HDLC wins multi-sport challenge fundraiser

HDLC wins multi-sport challenge fundraiser

By Gary van den Heuvel

The Hayward Day Labor Center (HDLC) celebrated its second anniversary with a combined game of basketball and indoor soccer against Hayward city officials, and won the game by a cumulative score of 69-46 at the Matt Jiminez Community Center in Hayward on Saturday, July 11.

After seeing the Hayward officials basketball team - which has played together for years and is known as the "Chilones" (Hot Stuff) - play the Hayward Police Department last year, HDLC Executive Director Gabriel Hernandez issued a challenge of half-basketball, half-indoor soccer.

The Hayward team, which includes Mayor Mike Sweeney (who couldn't attend Saturday's game), Councilmember Francisco Zermeno and former City Manager Jorge Adams (who was instrumental in establishing the HDLC), accepted the challenge. The game was played as a fundraiser for the Center, with donations of $5 per ticket from attendees. The Chilones donated $10 per player.

The Hayward Day Labor Center, located at the corner of Tennyson and Ruus Roads in Hayward, opened in June 2007. The HDLC enables business to be transacted between contractors and workers. It also runs several programs such as literacy, ESL (English as a second language), health, education and job placement.

"The Center, for me anyway, was never a conception of trying to warehouse the workers," said Hernandez. "It's a place that, if you have hundreds of guys there, how you use that pool of people and organize them."

"They are taller than us, but they say, the taller they are, the harder they fall," said Henry Coromaco, a day laborer and volunteer coordinator for the HDLC soccer program which currently has 12 teams.

The Chalones, who were clad in black basketball uniforms, had a distinct height advantage over the HDLC's "Chiquilines" (Little Ones), who wore white soccer jerseys, but HDLC raised more than a few eyebrows by scoring the first five points of the basketball portion of the contest. The Hayward city officials tightened up and at the end of the 15 minute quarter, they led 21-14.

The second quarter saw a switch from basketball to indoor soccer, with basketball-style scoring rules: any goal scored within the three-point arc was two points, and anything scored outside the arc counted as three.

The Chiquilines were in their comfort zone during the soccer portion of the game, faking out the Chilones with impressive footwork and dipsy-dos, while launching cannon-fire shots from almost anywhere on the gymnasium floor. At halftime, HDLC led 26-23. The Chilones' only goal was a block of a throw by the HDLC goalkeeper; the ball bounced off Councilmember Zermeno's foot and into the HDLC net.

When the third quarter switched back to basketball, the HDLC team, behind some scrappy defense and a run of good outside shooting, actually took a 45-34 lead, but the Chilones caught their second wind with a 12-0 run, and led at the end of the quarter, 46-45.

Their lead was nowhere near enough, though. With the game switching again to soccer for the fourth quarter, the Chiquilines put on a footie clinic with a 24-0 swamping of the winded Chilones to end the game 69-46.

"What they can do with their hands, we can do with our feet," Gabriel Hernandez had accurately predicted before the game.

Hernandez described some of the other functions of the HDLC. "We have a volunteer program where we do tens of thousands of dollars of volunteer work - painting over graffiti, picking up garbage, we water-blasted Tyrell School before school started, so for me, the Center is a place where you can organize people to be productive citizens of Hayward," he said. "I think we've done real well with that."

The Center has also helped with the legal defense of workers who were not paid by their contractors; Hernandez estimates that over $15,000 has been recouped from employers.

The Hayward Day Labor Center is located at 680 West Tennyson Road in Hayward. The phone number is 510-782-9675.

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