Nancy Sabin has visited hundreds of Vermont farms, but she's not a farmer. "I love farming -- if your doing it, not me," she said.
Rob Hunt milks over 300 cows in West Addison. He has a new venture -- pigs. He kids that he's the largest pig farmer in town -- not hard since he's the only one. Rob and Nancy have know each other for almost 10 years. He calls her looking for help. "She is a piece of work, she really is," Hunt said.
You see Nancy is a kind of mother to a group of men. Hundreds of Hispanic farm workers -- mostly from Mexico -- know her as Mama Nancy.
Mama Nancy thinks there are at least 2,000 undocumented farm workers in Vermont. The federal government says they are here illegally, but Rob Hunt says the state's dairy industry would collapse without them. "Yeah, I suppose I'm breaking the law, but for us it was either Hispanics or go out of business," he said. Hunt said no Vermonters want to do the work.
Carlos, Ronaldo and Edgar work on the farm. They range in age from 19 to 23. On this day Mama Nancy is giving them towels, shampoo and bubble gum. Mama Nancy is a kind of arbitrator between the farmers and the workers. She moves them to other farms if there is a dispute and bring them to stores to buy groceries. She insists that she doesn't profit from this, only collecting gas money.
Reporter Joe Carroll: There are people who say you are breaking the law, what do you say to them?
Nancy Sabin: Haw... arrest me, put me in jail, I don't care.
Reporter Joe Carroll: Why do you do it?
Nancy Sabin: Because I love my boys.
Reporter Joe Carroll: But you can be hard on them too, right?
Nancy Sabin: Oh absolutely. Oh don't get Mama Nancy mad -- oh no, no, no.
Reporter Joe Carroll: What does your family think of you doing all of this?
Nancy Sabin: They think I'm nuts, absolutely nuts.
The 74-year-old is a kind of paradox. She was born in Puerto Rico, the daughter of a businessman. But her roots are strongly planted in Charlotte, going back generations. Married four times with four children, she now says she has thousands of kids.
Her phone rings everyday. On the line, a Mexican who thinks he won't get paid by the farmer. "I place this guy there two years ago and now he's calling me, he's remembering me," Sabin said.
"I'm not quite sure why she does what she does... I just think it makes her feel good," Rob Hunt said.
A friendly face on the farm -- finding a calling to help those who often live in secret.
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