Faith Florez was named after her grandmother, a hardworking woman who spent 20 years under the California Central Valley’s blistering sun picking crops on fields. The hours were long and the conditions were exploitative, but she continued her onerous labor daily so that her progeny could live a different reality. At 17, Florez is her grandmother’s wildest dream, but who she is has been deeply inspired by her late abuela, who died from heat exhaustion.
Hearing the story of her grandmother from her father, who also worked in the fields, inspired her to find a solution to the strenuous conditions that farmworkers are subjected to. Enter Calor, an app the Shafter, Calif.-based teen created to keep the community safe.
“I don’t want to hear about a farmworker that died because they were too far away from water and shade,” Florez told 23ABC.
The smart watch application, which mimics triggered notifications like Amber Alerts, notifies users when temperatures become dangerously high as well as provides a hotline and educational materials on farmworker rights and safety.
“Farmworkers are some of the most vulnerable workers, specifically because 70 percent of them are undocumented Latino immigrants. They don’t have access to the greatest education systems, a lot of them live under the federal poverty line, and when they do faint, some will avoid going to hospitals. That’s really where the app comes in,” Florez said in a video for Bese.
The Latina started working on the app during her sophomore year of high school. After pitching her idea to graduate computer science students at the University of Southern California, it was picked up and ready to be turned into a reality. To bring it to life, however, required money — and lots of it. So Florez started a crowdfunding campaign to raise an ambitious $60,000 for software development. To her surprise, she raised the sum quickly. Her story, and the need for the service that Calor provides, touched many, including celebrities like Lin-Manuel Miranda, Eva Longoria and Gina Rodriguez, who donated to her fundraiser.
Currently, three farms in Kern County have partnered with Florez to provide their workers with Apple Watches that carry the app, and she is hoping more follow suit.
“With the health data gathered from the watch, we can help set more detailed standards for procedures relating to heat, shade, rest, and water. In doing so, we can set a uniform code of conduct for farms across the nation. It is essential to find ways to protect vulnerable workers from the dangerous business practices that are far too commonplace within the agricultural industry,” she said.
Watch a video about Florez’s Calor app below.
Recommend this story by clicking the share button below!