Join Us as We Celebrate Our Founder, Cesar Chavez, Mar. 28

Our annual Cesar Chavez Legacy Breakfast is just three weeks away and this year’s honorees represent our founder Cesar Chavez’s vision of “Empowering the underserved to be self-sufficient.” With your generous sponsorships, this year’s proceeds will go to furnishing the new dormitories under construction to house our un-housed young adult corps members. This transitional housing will help mitigate the challenges many of our young adults encounter with housing as they emerge from foster care, incarceration, and homelessness after high school.  

This year’s keynote speaker is California State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond. Tony will receive the Cesar E. Chavez Opportunity Award. Tony is no stranger to the all-too-familiar challenges of a broken home, poverty, and discrimination since he was orphaned at age 6 as an Afro-Latino child. He was empowered through education to serve the community and emerged into positions of influence and power as a member of a school board, the local city council, the state Assembly and was elected by voters statewide as the education official responsible for nearly 6 million k-12 students. Tony’s story is our story. We are delighted to honor him in the tradition of Cesar Chavez.

 For FIELD’s Cesar Chavez Legacy Award, we have selected an individual who has spent his entire career serving others, as a distinguished public servant, bringing economic and political empowerment to working people.  Richard Polanco was a former California state Senate Majority Leader, and Founder/Chairman of the California Latino Legislative Caucus. He spent many years on staff to Congressman Esteban Torres, worked in partnership with LA City Councilman Richard Alatorre, and with the former Chairman of the Democratic Party, Art Torres. Richard continues to advise FIELD in several matters to strategically empower the underserved. This includes bringing clean drinking water to farmworker communities around the state, including the working poor of South L.A.

Our next honoree is Flor Martinez.  Flor represents the future of Latino leadership in the state. She will receive the Cesar Chavez “Si Se Puede” award. Flor, or “Flower in Spanish,” is a dynamic, young, intelligent leader with a humble immigrant background who resides in San Jose. She is the founder of “Celebration Nation” a non-profit organization that has over a quarter million followers of her work in feeding and clothing people in need, especially farmworkers suffering from flooding, the pandemic, and more. 

As a woman who grew up in the fields, and spent many of her summers picking grapes for the wine industry, Flor experienced firsthand the discrimination and conditions under which our community works. She and her organization, Celebration Nation, are committed to helping farmworkers around the state. She is a dynamic organizer and movement builder in the tradition of the United Farm Workers by the Si Se Puede spirit or a “Spirit that promotes confidence, courage, and risk-taking to serve others.”  

 Locally, Kern County leadership will also be recognized at the breakfast: Magda Menendez, Executive Director of Kern Chapter of MAOF, Greg Bynum of Bynum and Associates Real Estate, as well as our very own farmworker-turned-physician, Dr. Carlos Alvarez

Magda Menendez will receive FIELD’s Cesar Chavez Lifetime Achievement Award in honor of her labors for well over 40 years in MAOF to bring opportunities of employment and training to many low-wage, low-skilled working people in the tradition of Pete Parra and the late Richard Prado. She continually advocates for training and education using all available resources including childcare, food vouchers, and more. She also volunteers in many capacities throughout Kern County.  

Greg Bynum, founder and CEO of Bynum Real Estate will receive the Cesar Chavez Excellence Award. Greg has contributed his time, and talents, as well as his treasury, to many, many endeavors in Kern County.  Besides his day job as a real estate professional, Greg and his family continuously contribute to the growth of Kern County, our residents, and the education in the region by serving on the Cal State Bakersfield University Foundation Board, the Workforce Development Board, and other volunteer support organizations. 

Dr. Carlos Alvarez will receive the Cesar Chavez Innovation Award. Dr. Alvarez is the oldest of 10 children in his family and is the founder of Alvarez Healthcare. He Immigrated as a child from Jalisco and worked in the fields alongside his parents. He attended local schools and colleges to complete his undergrad at UC Davis and studied medicine at the Universidad Autonoma of Guadalajara Medical School in 1981. Carlos’ dream was to become a doctor and take care of farmworkers. 

Clean Water Campaign

We are also excited to announce that our pilot Career Technical Education (CTE) pathway in our Clean Water Campaign, is making good strides. Thousands of people in Riverside County’s Coachella Valley area have suffered from some of the worst toxic, arsenic-laced water on a daily basis — seemingly forever. FIELD’s Core Purpose of “Empowering the Underserved to be Self-Sufficient” has brought us together with the folks at L.A.’s Groundswell Organization, to mobilize our various constituencies to seek remedies for clean water.  
Together with the Torres-Martinez Indian tribe and former State Sen. Polanco (creator of “Polanco Parks”, alternative housing trailer parks), we have identified a private company named Cadiz as a promising solution to convey clean water to these thirsty farmworker communities. More importantly, our hope is to train our students in future job opportunities that will be needed in the filtration and conveyance systems. The intent is to have these trainees become owners of their own employee-owned cooperative businesses after completing time in work-based learning pathways.  

Learning Pathways

Our work-based learning pathways continue to develop. Our Early Childhood Education (ECE) program is now located in a majority of our 20 learning centers around the state. Our Recycling pathway, through work-based learning, will offer a second recycling drop-off center in California City. Along with three additional recycling drop-off centers planned in our service areas, this will expand our capacity to help our young adults prepare for a shared business cooperative in material recycling along with green waste composting. 

Green waste composting has recently become a priority for our state’s resource and water conservation. Compositing will also provide our Agricultural Co-ops, with healthy soil from which to grow fruits and vegetables and our Culinary Arts program rich nutritious food to prepare in our new commercial kitchen at our Union Street facility.  

Finally, we’ve procured new contracts with our State Parks along the Pacific Coast, and are expanding our contracts with the Bureau of Land Management and our National Parks Service.

It’s been a busy 2024. Thank you for your support. Si se puede!

David Villarino Gonzalez 
President/CEO FIELD