Faith Estella Flórez’s effort to make safer working conditions for farmworkers was hailed by the Latino Caucus when it gave the 17-year-old the Dynamic Youth Award at the Latino Spirit Awards.
The daughter of former state Senator and Assemblymember Dean Flórez was among nine California Latino Spirit Award recipients honored on the Assembly floor at the state Capitol on May 7.
Faith has gained further support nationwide through her foundation, the Latina Legacy Foundation, which last year, created the Calor app, which is designed to notify farmworkers of dangerous working conditions to prevent heat illnesses. The Calor app (Calor is Spanish for heat) was so widely recognized that it was selected by coding students in coding graduate program at USC.
She believes the notoriety from the Latino Caucus will help bring attention to farmworkers’ conditions and continued improvement. Her father, who often advocated for environment protection, watched from the balcony and appeared to record on video as Faith marched along the Assembly floor escorted by Assemblymembers Rudy Salas and Anna Caballero, both Latino Caucus members.
“I’m grateful to share the stories and the narratives of the some of the most hard-working members of our economy with everybody here,” she said.
“What most people don’t know about farmworkers is that, not a lot of people sit down at the dinner table, for lunch or for breakfast, and really look at their plate, and realize that actual people picked these.”
Aside from sending notifications to workers when the heat exceeds certain thresholds, the Calor app hosts educational material in English and Spanish. It also provides contacts to medical service attention if an emergency was to occur.
Faith, a granddaughter of farmworkers, remains concerned about too many deaths and illnesses form working in the heat.
“Unfortunately the reality is that so many heat-related illnesses and deaths are reported every year. As the climate changes and we experience global warming, there will only be more incidences like these which is why we need to make sure to protect and ensure the safety of our farmworkers,” she said.
“The Central Valley can get up to 105 degrees. I feel like their struggle and their plight isn’t really recognized by a lot of Americans. I feel if we do recognize that, we’ll have a lot of compassion and empathy for immigrant workers that come to the United States, and just want to contribute to our economy.”
Faith, who mentioned that Gov. Jerry Brown is a “friend of the farmworker,” hopes the California legislature will do more to improve conditions for farmworkers.
“When my great grandparents were in the fields, the conditions were a lot worse than they are now. They didn’t have access to medical care when they were sick, they didn’t have paid sick leave, they were paid by the piece rate, so a lot has changed for the better,” she said.
Faith recently announced she would be attending USC. Her father attended crosstown rival UCLA, where he was student body president.