Essential Voices with Wilmer Valderrama

Essential Voices with Wilmer Valderrama

The Covid-19 pandemic introduced the term “Essential Workers” for a class of people who existed before and will persist long after the virus is gone. Vital to society, but rarely heard from, this “essential” class is often hit hardest by the imbalances and injustices of our culture. In each episode, host Wilmer Valderrama will have intimate conversations with people on the frontlines of the food system, transportation, child-care and other workers who are so often overlooked. That conversation leads to a round-table discussion with activists and politically-active celebrities, discussing themes, issues and areas of needed change. The show seeks to reveal the invisible connections between all of us.

Episodes

November 30, 2021 63 min

Rachel Barstow works every day to provide quality and caring education to students with disabilities and while promoting disability visibility. When the pandemic hit, Rachel’s center had to figure out how to adapt a tactile learning environment to a virtual setting. Rachel and the center were able to work in person even before vaccines thanks to the extraordinary efforts they took to keep their students and staff safe. Round table ...

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Roundtable guests Lindsay Toczylowski and Emem DuPuis Maurus elaborate on part-one of the “Casa de Arcoiris” mini-series. As immigration attorneys, Lindsay and Emem work together to support migrants on both sides of the US/Mexico border, oftentimes working directly with migrants who have stayed at Casa Arcoiris with director Cristina Franco Abundis, from part-one of the mini-series. When the pandemic hit and the border closed, Cris...

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November 2, 2021 64 min

When the US/Mexico border closed during the pandemic, migrants were forced to wait indefinitely as their asylum cases were put on hold. For LGBTQ+ migrants, finding safe, non-discriminatory housing while waiting at the border is a challenge. In 2018, Casa Arcoiris was founded in Tijuana to be a temporary, safe housing space for LGBTQ+ migrants. At Casa Arcoiris, Director Cristina Franco Abundis takes care of her community m...

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October 26, 2021 54 min

When the pandemic began, journalist Ashton Pittman began working at the Mississippi Free Press, a new nonprofit media outlet, not realizing what the future would hold. At a time when local, national, and global communities relied heavily on news outlets for an accurate portrayal of the Covid pandemic, Ashton’s work to provide fair and accurate journalism became essential. Not only reporting on Covid-19 but also on the Black Lives M...

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October 19, 2021 51 min

Ben Hess and his grocery store co-workers did not know they would be on the frontlines of a pandemic when they took their jobs. Not only did they have to worry daily about getting sick, they also had to manage customers frustrated at following safety protocols and deal with empty shelves. While Ben continued working hard, the pandemic took a big toll on his physical and mental health. Roundtable guests: Actress and activist Sophia ...

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October 12, 2021 56 min

Despite the risks, there is no place Dr. Lance Whitehair would rather be than the hospital. A family doctor for the Indian Health Service, Dr. Whitehair has been on the frontlines fighting COVID from the onset. As frightening as that fight has been, he has also borne witness to the incredible resilience of his Navajo community. On this week’s episode, Dr. Whitehair shares his passion for medicine along with the love he has for his ...

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October 5, 2021 53 min

When Liz Abunaw saw the lack of grocery stores and other basic services on the West Side of Chicago, she used her MBA background to start a community-centered grocery service that not only pays tribute to the United States’ first farmers, but also ensures healthy produce is available on the West Side. 2020 brought not only the pandemic to affect Liz’s business, but also brought a national outcry for racial justice. And in the Sprin...

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September 28, 2021 82 min

During the pandemic, farm workers had no choice but to keep working long days in the hot sun to harvest the fruits and vegetables that fed our nation. The majority of farm workers in the U.S. are migrant workers, many of whom are undocumented, and who were unable to stay home. Blanca Arroyo, a farm worker in Monterey County California, kept working in the fields even when there was immense fear of bringing COVID home to her family....

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September 21, 2021 48 min

Many veterans come back from active duty with physical injuries and mental healthcare needs as they transition back to civilian life. A veteran himself, Tim Sutherland continues his commitment to service by working every day to help veterans with their disability claims. By doing so, he ensures they get the care they need from the VA even during the pandemic. Roundtable guest: Jane Horton.


Learn more about Veteran’s Guardian: https:...

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September 14, 2021 54 min

Years ago on one fateful day in the Hollywood Forever Cemetery, volunteer Liza spoke from her heart and drew a crowd to raise money for the TransLatin@ Coalition. Nowadays, Liza is a case manager for the very same Coalition, working to serve the trans community of Los Angeles. Liza works with her trans community each day, ensuring folx have housing and other basic needs, including having their voices heard. Roundtable guests: B...

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September 7, 2021 49 min

Ameena- “La Patrona”- wears many hats - she’s a rideshare driver, an accountant, and used to run her own non-emergency medical transport business. Ameena loves being her own boss, but experiences the stresses that come with the title, underscored during the pandemic when riders refuse to wear masks. Ameena’s passion for her “hustle” has led her to find ways to uplift the fellow rideshare drivers in her community so they too can dri...

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August 31, 2021 41 min

What did you do today before 9am? For Leanne Martinez, the chef at the Downtown Women’s Center, putting out 1,000 meals before 9am for women experiencing homelessness, is just her average Tuesday. During the pandemic, Leanne went into work every day to cook healthy and hot meals for the women she serves. Roundtable guests: Amy Turk, the CEO of the Downtown Women’s Center, and restaurateurs Jon Shook & Vinny Dotolo.

Learn more ab...

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August 24, 2021 41 min

The COVID-19 pandemic left many in fear of eviction from their homes. It left many people unhoused as well, with moratoriums on evictions and landlords at odds. People like Trini Ocampo, an attorney with the Neighborhood Legal Services of Los Angeles County (NLSLA) worked tirelessly to protect and advocate for those individuals fighting to keep the doors on their hinges. Roundtable guests: Los Angeles City Council Member Nithya Ram...

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August 17, 2021 40 min

Imagine being the primary caretaker for your employer- making sure they take their medication, taking them to all their doctors appointments, cooking for them… the list goes on. For Denise, a domestic worker, the amount of jobs she does in a day is endless. Then the pandemic hit, and Denise didn’t stop caring for her employers. For domestic workers, many of whom are undocumented, the pandemic exacerbated a lack of protections that ...

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August 10, 2021 46 min

The trauma of COVID-19 has left no ones mental health unscathed. Everyone is affected- kids, older folx, and everyone in between- in unique ways. This week’s essential voice is Dr. Kavner, a school guidance counselor and therapist. Dr. Kavner works every day to support her students through the loss and emotional uncertainty of the pandemic. Roundtable guests: California Surgeon General Dr. Nadine Burke Harris, and the creator of th...

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August 3, 2021 39 min

Imagine a high school health teacher who encourages you to ask all your hormonally charged questions without making it awkward, and instead empowers you in your health education. What if that same teacher was helping you navigate how to stay safe not only in school, but at home with your family due to COVID-19? Meet Leticia, this week’s essential voice. Roundtable guest: Monica Garcia from the LA Unified School District.


Episode tra...

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July 27, 2021 41 min

Remember supporting your favorite restaurants by getting takeout during the pandemic? What if your go-to neighborhood spot was not only fighting to stay open during the pandemic, but also started a local initiative to get free food to frontline healthcare workers? Jenny and FeedER, an Oakland based community initiative, were doing just that.

This week’s essential voice is Jenny Schwarz. Roundtable guests: Nate Mook from World Centr...

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