Stratford hopes to bring life back into their once bustling town

STRATFORD, Calif. (KFSN) -- A group of South Valley residents is on a mission to change their town. Stratford is located south of Lemoore, along Highway 41.

If you travel down Highway 41, you might miss the town of Stratford if you blink. The Kings County town is home to more than 1,000 and people and along Main Street, you can see signs of the once lively town center.

Ramon Chavez said, "I just remember everybody knew each other. It was just a close knit community and somewhere along the line. We detached from that and we're trying to bring that back."

Chavez has lived in Stratford for more than two decades and is passionate about restoring this community. One by one, residents have joined efforts to better their home with a group called "Reestablishing Stratford." Their first project started by focusing on the kids.

"I just decided to clean it up," said Chavez. "I saw a vision, I saw basketball courts, the the floors. I started cleaning it up and I ran it by some of he kids and some of the kids started helping me out as well. From that it just blossomed."

Ramon and others took a once dilapidated building and turned it into a basketball court and safe haven. Now, the group is dreaming of more, like a community center and sports complex.

Rob Isquierdo added, "We need to give these kids something to do beyond what the school is able to offer. It's the community's responsibility to fill that gap."

Isquierdo says that's why they're kicking off their efforts with their first Stratford 5k run/walk to bring awareness. The event will also feature music and food. Residents hope it will inspire this next generation to reach for more.

Chavez said, "I want kids to know there's more out there. There's hope."

Organizers are inviting people across the Valley to be a part of the change. You can help by running in the 5k run/walk Saturday morning.

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