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tv   Comunidad del Valle  NBC  June 21, 2015 9:30am-10:01am PDT

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hello and welcome to "comunidad del valle." i'm damian trujillo and today on our show, she developed an app for dreamers. sarahi espinoza salamanca is in our studio for your "comunidad del valle." male announcer: nbc bay area presents "comunidad del valle" with damian trujillo. damian: we begin today with a solution maybe to fight hunger in san mateo and in santa clara counties. with me on "comunidad del valle" is jessica vasquez with the second harvest food bank. welcome to the show. jessica vasquez: thank you. damian: now, you developed this way for folks to obtain food if they actually need the food, but let's talk first of all about the need because there is kind of a perception that the economy is doing well and that we're doing okay and that there isn't a need for food.
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we're looking at video here at the sacred heart community services, which is, of course, one of the partners of second harvest. but talk, if you will, about the need, the ongoing need for this kind of service in the bay area. jessica: yeah, so as a matter of fact, we've noticed that about half of the individuals who actually qualify for calfresh and, of course, other food resources are benefitting from the program itself. so that is what primarily led us to the creation of this campaign, which is called text4calfresh campaign. not only that, we've also seen a continuous increase in the price--the prices of housing. so those are relatively high for individuals to continually--and they're always trying to make ends meet. damian: and i mean, this is--you've developed this way for people to text if they do need the help. talk about what the process is, what number--we'll have the number that they need to text in a bit, but talk about the
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process and how this came about. jessica: yeah, so that pretty much stemmed from second harvest believes that every individual should have access to nutritional food. and calfresh is a way for individuals and families to get access to food. damian: talk about calfresh and what that is for those who might not understand. jessica: so calfresh is also known as food stamps. and federally, it's known as snap, which stands for supplemental nutrition assistance program. and the way that it works is that individuals who qualify for that program would receive a debit card. it functions exactly like a debit card, which can be used at any local grocery store, any store that pretty much accepts this form of payment. so as long as an individual goes to a store and sees ebt card accepted, they would be able to purchase food there. it's very discreet and confidential, being that you would simply pay for your food and put a pin number, like any other debit card.
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damian: all right, and so those folks who qualify for calfresh are also the ones who have been calling you. tell us about that again. jessica: yeah, so the way that that pretty much kicked off is that taking that into consideration, second harvest does think that every individual who should have access to nutritional food and putting second harvest's mission, which is to end local hunger, that texting campaign came about, which essentially is that individual would not be able to text a keyword to the number 97779 and they would be connected to calfresh, as well as other second harvest food bank resources. now, in terms of the english campaign, the main keyword would be "get food." so the individual would text "get food" to 97779, and they would be prompted with a few questions, three or four questions, of which two of the main ones would be a question inquiring about the number of people within the household,
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and of course gross monthly income. now, those two questions themselves function as pre-screening tools. so you can see that the messaging system itself is a way to pre-screen the individual and pretty much anticipate whether they would qualify for calfresh or not. now, this alone breaks through a communication barrier given that many of our community members spend a lot of time at work. they spend time taking children to and from school. so this would be a relatively accessible method in which that--in which they can use the comfort of their home, during their lunch break at work, and they could quickly see whether they would potentially qualify for calfresh. damian: all right, well, i think we do have--there's the number there. it's 97779. and then you text the word, again, to that. what do you text? jessica: the word is "get food." damian: "get food."
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so you text "get food" to that number there and press send. and again, somebody from the second harvest food bank will call you back and do some pre-screening and see how they can help you out. we'll be back and talk more about this important topic when we continue here on "comunidad del valle." stay with us. they make little hearts happy and big hearts happy too
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because as part of a heart healthy diet, those delicious oats in cheerios can help lower cholesterol. cheerios... how can something so little... help you do something so big. on "comunidad del valle." and so there's this pre-screening that takes place once you text "get food" to 97779. now, what happens after that if, let's say, a month goes by and i've gone through the pre-screening and i qualify. can i text that number again in a month? jessica: yes, of course you can. then there would be no limitations. and the final question on--that is always sent at the end of the series of questions on the texting tool would be if the individual agrees to be contacted by second harvest food bank. if they say yes, then a specialist would follow up within 24 to 48 hours to give them further information on calfresh or any other program that they may be eligible for. damian: because there might be some resources available
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to them that they have no idea, and that's why you do this pre-screening. now, what if they don't want to be contacted? are they still able to participate? jessica: if they don't want to be contacted, that's fine. the only thing is that the specialist won't follow up with them. but they at any point can always call or text again once they're ready to benefit from these resources. damian: talk again, if you will, about the need, especially here in silicon valley. i know that folks, you know, say that we're out of the woods already, but when you look at the lines at the food banks and whatnot, we're really not. jessica: yeah, yeah. so we're actually noticing that a lot of individuals who are receiving calfresh are actually individuals who are also working. but these are individuals who are, regardless of their effort to work, they're still not making ends meet. and this is where benefits like calfresh and other food bank programs, which are completely free, would come into play. they would come into play in the sense that they would complement where there is a gap.
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so they would--it would help them eliminate the decision process from having to choose whether to purchase food or whether to pay rent, whether to purchase food or buy shoes for their children. so these are key factors that are taken into consideration. and like i mentioned with cost of living increasing, it's very important that we let our community know that these resources are available. not only that, but there's a huge connotation that if you receive calfresh, you may not receive other food bank programs. in reality, that's wrong because you may use these programs as a complementary sources for each individual to try to meet their needs. damian: and talk about, again, the benefits for a consumer, myself maybe, the benefits of being able just to text that "get food" to that text number. jessica: so a huge benefit is that, through our vendor, mobile commons, we did notice-- we learned that 99%
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of text messages are read. and not only that, but within households that make around $30,000 a year, they're twice as likely to send more text messages than households that earn about $75,000 yearly. so this, not only is it an efficient way to reach out to our community, but it's also a very confidential way to reach out to our community. and like i mentioned, it's very simple and easy to follow. it's just a matter of a text message away to get food on the table. damian: it might be too early to tell, but how effective do you think the program has been so far? or are we still kind of in the initial stages of it? jessica: we have noticed that right after several radio broadcasts or television broadcasts, and even advertisement or promotion through newspapers, it's been impactful. so that's pretty much what our goal is right now, to get our
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community to learn about these programs and get the word out there. damian: your reaction when you see the long lines? again, we showed some video there, but when you see personally the long lines at the food banks and people who are still, you know, with children, families who are still in need? jessica: i think it's very heartbreaking when you're out there and you hear personal stories from our community members, when you hear them having to decide whether to pay for rent or pay for their children's clothes, when you hear about them living in their cars. i think that's the most heartbreaking of all. and that is why we strive for such high effort of trying to get and push these resources to our community, and try to end local hunger. damian: very good. and there is the information. again, you text the words "get food," there it is on your screen, to the number 97779. and i'm assuming that standard text messaging fees apply, but
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you can text that to that number there and they'll be able to help you out, the second harvest food bank. any final thoughts before we let you go? jessica: no, just remember to text the word "get food" to the number 97779. and remember that we're here to help and to provide any information on calfresh, or any other food bank programs that is offered by second harvest food bank. damian: all right, thank you for the work that you're doing. jessica: thank you. damian: all right. and up next here on "comunidad del valle," an app to help the dreamers. stay with us.
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preventing a new infestation. its protection lasts a full 30 days. no wonder frontline plus is the #1 choice of vets for their pets and yours. after all, your dog is a lover not a fighter. frontline plus. the vet's #1 choice. on "comunidad del valle." and sarahi espinoza salamanca developed an app to help those dreamers kind of navigate through the scholarship application process? sarahi salamanca: yes. damian: around the country, actually. sarahi joins us here on "comunidad del valle." welcome to the show. sarahi: thank you very much for having me. damian: well, what a whirlwind it's been for you over the last year. we have video clips of you actually speaking with some very important people, and you yourself are included on that list. but talk about what you've been through and your reaction to the
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fact that you've gotten this much national attention so far. sarahi: well, it's been a wonderful blessing to be able to get so much attention being that i kind of just went into it not thinking that it was going to be this big. but i did go in with big ambition. i went in to compete for the first place prize, which was $100,00 for this competition from voto latino. and the official title of the competition was called voto latino innovators challenge. and i decided for a while, i've been wanting to make an app because i created a website called in 2012, where i posted scholarships and local networking events to help undocumented and low-income students because i come from both of those backgrounds. i thought it was really important to share with our community and especially our youth the importance of networking and the importance of knowing that there is money out there for them to go to college. so when this competition came out with voto latino, i said, "this is it. like this is my opportunity to try and make this happen."
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so i enrolled into the competition in november of 2014. and by january of 2015, they told us the 50 semi-finalists. and i was 1 of the 50. and out of the 50, we had to compete again and send more information about our app and, like, more in detail timeline, who was going to help us, what was our mission, why did we want to do it. and this is something that i'm very passionate about because i'm a dreamer myself and i know how difficult it is and how many barriers we have to face when we have to graduate from high school and go onto college. so i was one of the top nine that was chosen to go compete in washington dc. and out of the nine, six were chosen to compete and pitch in front of judges. and i was one of the two first place winners. damian: wow, congratulations. and so your app, again, is geared at helping dreamers navigate through the system. tell us how easy you make it for them, or you're going to make it because you're still in development with that to launch, how easy you're going to make it for them to kind of get the
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scholarships that fits them. sarahi: so the name that we decided to call this app was dreamer's roadmap. dreamers because that's the way that we are identified here in this country-- damian: there's you kind of logging on on your mobile device to that app. sarahi: yes, and dreamer's roadmap is basically an app that's going to be synchronized with, like, a master database of scholarships that are available for undocumented students in the country. so at first, i was, like, thinking maybe we should just do california, just focus here. but the need is so much greater than california. and we're very fortunate that in california, there's already a lot of help for undocumented students, so it's going to be a lot easier for us to congregate that information and provide it for california residents, rather than to do it for the rest of the country. so we decided as a team to take on that challenge and help undocumented students across the country. so this app is basically that one motherboard, i guess you can say, app where all the scholarships are going to be in
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one place for students to go and get push notifications of when the application is due. and it's going to be a very, very simple process. you just--and we also thought of the protection of our users, right? because an issue that came up was privacy. how do we protect our users? what if we're asked to hand over all of our information of our users? damian: oh, that never happens. sarahi: if, if. so we're very--we were very cautious about that and we decided to just skip the whole registration process. we're not going to ask you for your email, we're not going to ask you for anything. you're just going to be able to do into the list and save that. and every time you log into our app, all of that stuff that you saved is going to be in your file to protect the user from any harm or any fear that they might have, like, "i don't want to use this app because i don't want to be exposed," which is still an issue for many students. not a lot have felt comfortable to come out. it's been more popular lately because there's a lot of us coming out at the same time, and we're proud of it,
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and we're not afraid. but there's still a big number of students who are not comfortable sharing it with their friends, with their family, with like faculty from their schools. so this is going to be an app that protects not only them, but also their identity. damian: so when can i go to the app store and download it? sarahi: we are hoping to launch by september. we're hoping to launch by september as of right now. i'm working with my development team and we hope to have it by september. damian: and this is thanks to the $100,000 grant by voto latino that you're able to launch this. sarahi: exactly, yes. thanks to the $100,000 grant that we got from voto latino, i was able to gather a group of developers and a team to get this on the road and actually have this tool available for students to use. damien: that's very awesome. well, we do have some information for you. there she is on a mobile device, again, with the dreamer's roadmap. now, if they go to that website right now, can they find anything there at this point right now? sarahi: so what they will find right now on the website is basically more information about what dreamer's roadmap is
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and a potential launch date and things like that. we will be posting updates. if we feel that the development is going to be much quicker, we will post updates on our twitter, which is @dreamersroadmap, and on our website. so go ahead and follow us there to get more information. damian: all right, we'll be back and talk more with sarahi when we continue here on "comunidad del valle." stay with us.
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they make little hearts happy and big hearts happy too because as part of a heart healthy diet, those delicious oats in cheerios can help lower cholesterol. cheerios... how can something so little... help you do something so big. sarahi, talking about this new app for dreamers , if you will. how difficult--you said--you used the words "coming out." was that difficult at all for you, scary at some point? or how was your decision to announce to the world that you are a dreamer? sarahi: for me, it was very interesting because all my life, i knew that i was undocumented, but i didn't really know the meaning of what undocumented was until my senior year of high school, when i applied for fafsa, not knowing that i didn't
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qualify because i didn't have a social security number. so for me, it was a very interesting process, where it wasn't like, oh, i know i'm a dreamer and i know i'm undocumented and here i am. it was more like i know i'm undocumented, but i don't know what it means. and now that i know, why are you treating me that way? why are you, like, not letting me through all these doors that anyone else--right, all my other classmates were able to get fafsa, were eligible for so many scholarships. and when i decided to talk to my teachers, i was really kind of scared because i'm like, "are they going to judge me differently? are they going to look at me different? are they going to see me less than what i am?" because in high school, i was very active and all my classmates were like, "where is sarahi going to college?" like, right? like that was the big question. so for me, it was very hard, like, just to hear the word "college" my senior year in the last months because i knew that i wasn't going to be able to go because i didn't have the money. and when i talked to my professors and my advisors,
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they didn't know either. this was back in 2008. so at that point, it wasn't very popular that students were coming out and sharing their status with the faculty from their schools. so the faculty wasn't very aware of what resources were out there for students in my situation. damian: at this point, it could have been easy--you know, i talk to students and kids sometimes, high school, college, or whatnot. it would have been easier for you to give up and to use that as an excuse. "well, you know what, there is this barrier i'm facing. i'm not going to make it. i'm going to take the low road." what was it about you? what is it about people like you, do you think, that say, "no, you know what? this might be an obstacle, but i'm going to get over it"? sarahi: for me, it was a person. it was a change maker. and she was a lady from my church. when i moved back from los angeles, because i graduated from north hollywood high school, i wanted to leave for the same reason. everybody asked me, kept on asking me, and it really hurt me to tell them i can't go, i'm not going. so i left los angeles and i moved here to the bay area with my sister. and a lady from church told me that her son, who was
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a counselor at de anza, would help undocumented students go to college. and that was the first person that i knew that told me that i could go to college. so she was kind of the one who shifted everything for me because i was very depressed, i was very sad, i was upset. i'm like, "this is it. like, i guess this is up to where we can go with the status that we have." until she came into my life and i'm like, "okay, i can go to college. like, i can do this." so she was the one that, like, kind of switched everything for me. and from there, i decided to take responsibility and make it possible for me to go to college. and then once i was there, figure out a way to give back and let students know that they could go to college. because even now that it's very popular that, yeah, you can and there's a lot of support for dreamers, there are still students out there that don't know that they can go to college and that don't know where to find money to go to college. damian: and it is scary because, again, you don't want--you want to be, i would imagine, not as visible as everybody else when you're in that situation. sarahi: yes, and that's another thing that
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i decided to take upon myself, right? being undocumented, it was kind of a fear at first of, like, okay, i'm going to come out, like, on national television. and the first time that i spoke about my status openly was in november 2013, when i participated in the dreamers hackathon with mark zuckerberg. they asked me to talk about my story in front of all the media. and that was very scary, yes. i'm like, "what are they going to say about me?" but that gave me the--like, i guess my story gave me the strength to expose myself, to let other students know that it doesn't matter the status that you have as long as you set, like, a goal and you have a dream, you work hard for it. those barriers are just kind of, like--see them like transparent. you'll pass right through them. and that's what i've done regardless of the status. damian: you graduated from canada college and what's next for you? sarahi: so right now, i am expecting a baby.
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damian: congratulations. sarahi: so i'm taking the fall semester off. thank you. so i'm taking the fall semester off to have my baby, and that is why we want to launch in september, so by the time the baby's here, i already launched my company, we already launched the app. but this summer and into the fall, our main focus is focusing on dreamer's roadmap, making sure we get it done and out to the public that's very, very desperately needing a tool like dreamer's roadmap. damian: i would imagine that you grew up considering yourself a regular american kid going to school in this country. sarahi: yes, yes. i spoke the language. i don't have an accent. so when i tell people my status, they're like, "i would have never thought." so it's very difficult for dreamers that are told every day, "you don't belong here. go back to your home." but this is our home. this is where we grew up. we went to school hers, our friends are here, our neighbors, our friends, family. this is our home, and this is where we belong, and where we're going to stay.
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damian: and your--at your young age, you're giving, giving by your smarts, your development, your app that you're developing. i mean, it's not that you're here in this country and you're taking. you're actually giving, you're giving something of yourself. sarahi: yeah, and i feel that's a very big misconception that they have about undocumented people as a whole, right? the immigrant community i feel that gives so much more to this country than what people think, right? we do all the jobs that other people don't want to do and they don't think about that, right? they're just like, "go home." but if they really thought about it, if we were to "go home," all of us, they would have nowhere to go eat, they wouldn't have someone who takes care of their kids, they wouldn't be able to go to their jobs because they wouldn't be able to function without us. so i feel that it's a very big misconception when they say, "you take up all of our resources." it's actually no, we actually give you the resource for you to be able to go do your job. damian: and a happy meal would probably cost you about $15, $18 maybe if that was the case. here is more information.
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again, sarahi is developing that app to help undocumented students, the dreamers if you will, obtain scholarships. any final thoughts, sarahi, before we let you go? sarahi: i just wanted to say thank you. thank you very much for the opportunity to let me be here and to just tell dreamers once again to believe in themselves, that the status is only a status quo, to not think that just because they have--they're missing that nine-digit number that they're any different. they're not different. they're american, even if they're from mexico, latin america. america is in the name. we're american regardless, right? and to believe in themselves. don't let these people--because there's going to be a lot of people that are going to put you down, that are going to tell you no, that are going to close the door. but don't give up. believe in yourself, keep moving forward, surround yourself by people that believe in you and that love you, and you will succeed with a strong network. damian: and log on because they're going to show you when they're going to launch that app again. thank you so much for what you're doing, good luck. and now here's what's happening in your comunidad.
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[music] [music] damian: so those that are celebrating a special day, felicidades. [music] here's our address for next week's saludos. pick up a copy of el observador newspaper and support your bilingual weeklies all across the bay area. follow me on twitter @newsdamian. thank you for sharing a part of your sunday with us once again. we'll see you again next week; buenas tardes.
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