Sheepherder helpers…

phRGSheepherderPhotoRangely’s Juan Chumacero, Sr., left, and Colorado Mesa University Spanish professor Tom Acker, left, were recognized for their service to sheepherders and other Hispanic immigrant groups on June 23. Both men received the John Kiernan Award at a ceremony and dinner celebrating the third anniversary of Western Colorado’s Hispanic Affairs Project (HAP), a non-profit organization focused on “leadership formation, community organizing and advocacy” for Hispanic immigrants. For decades, Chumacero and his wife, Aurora, have sought out the sheepherders in the area, building relationships with and materially assisting the mostly Peruvian and Mexican migrant workers. Acker, who sometimes works with Chumacero, helped found the HAP and works for Colorado immigrant rights among other social justice projects. Chumacero said that while the ceremony was wonderful, he never expected the recognition and that he and Aurora find deep satisfaction in connecting to isolated sheepherders living and working in difficult, rugged conditions.