Teacher Drives Hours To Hand Out Masks To Farm Workers In California

November 20, 2018

Paulina Cortes is a preschool teacher in San Jose, California.

But today she was handing out masks for farm workers because the air quality is still considered hazardous from the Camp Fire.

woman hands out masks to farm workers California
Credit: Paulina Cortes

"I don't have the emotional capacity to go into detail about this just yet because I just got home and feel really tired, but today I spent my day in Lodi just 1 1/2 hrs away from San Jose to hand out masks to farm workers in rural communities," she wrote on Facebook.

"Find a way to give to a community who needs help. Thank you to everyone who is supporting me through donations. I drove through San Jose and all the way to Salinas to find the amount of masks I needed. This is important. The story here isn't that I handed out masks, it's that there are hundreds of people who are working in HAZARDOUS environments with NO protection. And no one even knows about it."

Paulina posted an update after her photos were picked up by the local news.

"This means the absolute world to me as not a lot of folks are aware of what's happening to farm workers. I traveled through Lodi and Stockton not just to hand out masks, but to educate the farm workers about the severity of the pollution. In Lodi yesterday the workers were picking fruit in 'HAZARDOUS' labeled air with an AQI of 308... and worst of all is that none of them knew this. Not everyone has access to information that we have access to and what's important is that we continue to build bridges to reach our communities.

As for donations, I'm taking donations on my Venmo @pau_olvido and my paypal is paulinacortes222@gmail.com. I'm buying more masks and sending them to a Stockton farm worker activist that accompanied me yesterday. There are HUNDREDS of people working in these conditions not too far from our homes - the story here is that exploited farm workers are not being treated like human beings.

Thanks for all the comments and support."

Thank you, Paulina, for caring and trying to make a difference.

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