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OXNARD, Calif. – On October 4, 2013, a fire in Oxnard destroyed the homes of several families.

With nearly 75 people displaced in wake of nine buildings being destroyed, an obvious need surfaced for affected families. That need was met by Friends of Fieldworkers, Inc., which, founded three days after the fire, collected clothing, household items, furniture, toys, medical supplies and books, and distributed them to as many of the displaced and scattered families as the organization could locate.

Friends of Fieldworkers operated as a subsidiary of The Abundant Table, distributing contributions of cash and in-kind goods received to families and relatives of the fire victims, from its founding until its incorporation on May 13, 2015. The support of families of farmworkers has continued well beyond those devastating fires.

Executive Director Dr. Martita Martinez-Bravo's work helping continue that outreach is why she was recently recognized as the Rams' seventh "pLAymaker" honoree of 2023.

"Well, it means that the Rams recognize the need to invest in a community that is typically not invested in," Martinez-Bravo said, when asked what it meant to be recognized as a pLAymaker. "And it really brings life to the smiles and to the hearts of so many farmworkers in Ventura County."

According to Martinez-Bravo, the mission of Friends of Fieldworkers today is "to befriend farmworker families in Ventura County, by celebrating, supporting, and advocating for them." It carries out that mission via programs such as Laundry Love (providing low- or no-cost laundry services to people across the country); Scholarships (annual one to a student whose parent(s) are farmworkers in the county); Emergency Response (providing emergency response funding to families experiencing a variety of crisis situations); and In-Kind Donations.

"In Ventura County, we have over 40,000 farmworkers, and they help to contribute to the economic development of this county," Martinez-Bravo said. "And so I think it is important to help support and invest in our community of farmworkers for so many reasons. Our farmworker families, they are families just like yours and mine, and many times we just see them on a landscape as we're driving by, but the reality is they are so much more, and they are so grateful for everything that is provided to them."

Martinez-Bravo said inspire change means to instill hope in people.

"It's showing empathy, it's showing love," she said. "It's showing that you are able to see that person for the human being that they are."

As for inspiring change in one's own community, Martinez-Bravo said one can do so by doing what one's passion is and helping others in "whatever way it is."

"That is what makes our community," Martinez-Bravo said. "It is really the people of the community that make the heart of the community."

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