Maria J Rodriguez
Maria is a graduate of California Lutheran University. Maria has a long history of being active in the community. Maria hopes that her project brings about change that will positively impact the lives of the many people with undocumented status in our country. She is currently applying to several graduate school programs to obtain her PhD in the field of Sociology. Maria desires to become a scholar and dedicate her efforts to learning, teaching, and bringing a new lens and understanding to the field of sociology.
The focus of her project is to address the significant barriers and challenges faced by immigrants in Ventura County when they need immigration-related legal assistance. Many immigrants face immigration legal matters on their own, without any competent legal advice, support, or representation, which leads to unfavorable outcomes that could be prevented. Others seek assistance from unqualified individuals who charge predatory fees and fail to provide the help that was needed. This project encompasses two major actions, one for academic purposes and the second for community advocacy. First, we plan to complete our research and publish a white paper based on the data we collect that defines the needs and the barriers that exist in Ventura County. Second, we intend to use the output of the research as a basis for offering solutions to the problems this project is addressing. With the help and support of my colleagues at Buen Vecino, CLU, and partner organizations, we plan to create information resources and workshops about the different types of legal aid that are available to this population and the importance of seeking help from competent, accredited legal service providers. Our intention is to empower this population to recognize that this is a significant problem that affects them, and to understand that they can become advocates for themselves and others.
Elibet Valencia Muñoz
test contact page 02-02-21
Elibet's project will create a video and photographic documentary of a traditional Mixteco Dance “La Danza de los Diablos.” Through this work she hopes to honor the Mixteco culture, conduct exhibitions throughout Ventura County and create material for ethnic studies in our schools.
Elibet Valencia Muñoz is a photographer and filmmaker based in Ventura County, CA and Jalisco, Mexico with 7 years of experience. Her Bachelor of Arts is in History with a minor in Visual Communication. She incorporates her training in her art and social justice efforts. Leading themes in her work are material culture and accessibility.
"La Danza De Los Diablos" is a photographic project profiling the famous Mixteco dance that includes the wearing of horned, devilesque masks. The product will be a photo series of the local group "Los Elegidos De Asís," the largest group in Ventura County with dozens of dancers. The project includes the members in full attire, detailed shots of the masks, as well as portraits of the person behind the mask. Along with the photographs, this project will audio record oral history and contextualize it with colonization history, in particular to the Middle Passage. The photographs will be exhibited digitally and physically throughout Ventura County in Summer 2021 and donated to academic and public libraries for permanent housing. This project aims to amplify afro-indigenous art, culture, and history. It will serve as a contribution to our community via art exhibitions, material for curriculum, and evidence of mental wellness activities. The goal is to bring awareness to the diversity of culture and heritage within Ventura County and to advocate for more just representations and services for the Mixtec and afro-indigenous community.
Sara's project will attempt to identify nutritional needs in Oxnard to help launch a healthy food project with the Westminster Free Clinic. She will also share the results of her research with local leaders to raise awareness of the need for healthy food in our most marginalized communities in the county.
Sara was born and raised in Oxnard, Sara recently returned home after graduating from San Diego State University with a degree in Interdisciplinary Studies. As an undergrad student, she interned in local political offices and in Washington, D.C., where she discovered a passion for public service. Looking to give back to the community that helped shape her, she joined AmeriCorp and one of their Ventura County-based service programs. She is currently a CalSERVES VIP Fellow working with Westminster Free Clinic, a local non-profit that provides free medical services to the uninsured population of Ventura County. She is passionate about the intersection between reproductive justice, equitable healthcare, and public policy and plans on attending graduate school in the future to get her Master’s in Public Policy.
While working at Westminster Free Clinic’s weekly food distribution service in both Thousand Oaks and Oxnard, Sara noticed the increasing amount of families that were coming for food each week. Many of the folks she spoke with explained they were experiencing economic hardship due to the pandemic and rely on food distributions to feed their family. However, not all food distributions are equal; Westminster Free Clinic’s food distribution is unique in that they focus on providing healthy, nutritionally valuable food - such as fresh vegetables, fruits, and whole grains - to the community they serve. Her project will focus on conducting a nutritional needs assessment of the Oxnard population that Westminster Free Clinic serves and using that data to improve access to healthy, culturally relevant foods at Westminster Free Clinic and other food distribution services as well as lay the groundwork for the Corazones Sanos (Healthy Hearts) program at Westminster’s Oxnard Clinic, which is focused on improving the health outcomes of low income, uninsured Latinos suffering from or at risk of heart disease due to diabetes, obesity, and/or lifestyle habits.
JUSTICE IN THE CLASSROOM
2020 COVID19 Response
Other SJFVC grants during 2020 were emergency campaigns, in response to the COVID19 pandemic:
- Mar 2020: The coronavirus pandemic is impacting every aspect of our lives and making all of us find creative ways to adapt to this unprecedented situation. The Social Justice Fund for Ventura County (SJFVC) understands that this disruption has created many issues and uncertainties – from childcare and meals to income and employment, as well your health and that of your families. During these difficult times, we need to remember that the impact on marginalized and low-income communities will be even greater. Many of these families were already living their life in crisis, and the Covid-19 pandemic only adds to their distress. SJFVC helped by providing a $10,000 contribution.
- May 2020: The Social Justice Fund for Ventura County (SJFVC) has awarded $3,700 to Friends of Fieldworkers. The grant will pay for masks and other personal protection equipment (PPE) for farmworkers. Farmworkers are essential to the nation’s food supply, and Ventura County is home to over 40,000 farmworkers. They have been working throughout this pandemic without adequate PPE provided by their employers. Fields of Fieldworkers’ seeks to provide these vital resources to farmworkers, which is key to the health of farmworkers and the effort to maintain a secure food supply to our community.
- Dec 2020: The Social Justice Fund for Ventura County (SJFVC) cosponsored a lunch, along with Chalice of Newbury Park, saying "Thank You" to some of our Ventura County hospital first responders at Pleasant Valley Hospital. SJFVC helped by providing a $900 contribution.