Formed on November 3rd, and reaching its maximum intensity on November 7th, Typhoon Haiyan—known as Typhoon Yolanda in the Philippines—was an exceptionally powerful tropical cyclone that caused catastrophic damage, especially in the Leyte and Samar Islands. It is the deadliest Philippine typhoon on record, killing more than 5,900 people, with another 1,800 still missing. According to CNN figures released just yesterday, “More than 12 million people have been affected by the monster typhoon that left behind catastrophic scenes of destruction and despair when it made landfall.”
After hearing the devastating news, Diana Wong, Social Media Coordinator, KRA/San Diego Metro Region One Stop Career Centers*, and Molly Wheat, Business Services Representative, California Employment Development Department (EDD) initiated a community-based Call-to-Action for the Typhoon Haiyan Relief Effort. Joined by more KRA, EDD, and community-partner supporters, they implemented a phenomenal drive to collect donations and funds to contribute to the Philippine relief effort. Wong reported, “San Diego County has the second largest Philippine/Philippine-American population in the nation, with more than 180,000 residents of Philippine ancestry. Several KRA/San Diego staff are connected directly to the Philippines and to the Philippine-American community, so we were impacted on a very personal level by the devastation.”
Wheat commented, “The experience was definitely a positive one; it brought our office together and turned into a communal project. At the end, we had a sense of accomplishment and a ‘do-gooder’s high’; it made people feel good to do something good for others. I took part in this opportunity because I was listening to the news and I heard people talking about family members who were killed, their houses destroyed and lives shattered… people who were starving and couldn’t find any food for their children. Most people sympathize with bad things that happen, and assume there isn’t anything they can do. The truth is that all of the tiny efforts put together are what make a real impact. A quote that reflects the spirit of the event: We know only too well that what we are doing is nothing more than a drop in the ocean. But if the drop were not there, the ocean would be missing something. ― Mother Teresa
Wong continued, many people in the building wanted to help in some way, and needed a trusted resource to which they could contribute donations and funds. Taking on the role of that ‘trusted resource’, on November 14th, Molly and I took the lead in establishing drop-off points, placing collection boxes throughout the South Metro Career Center office. Theresa Schulze [Employment Program Representative, San Diego Workforce Services/EDD] identified sites—St. Michael’s Church and the National City Police Department—for delivery of the boxes, as they had processes in place for sending donations directly to Philippine families in need.
Schulze shared her feelings: “When I saw the news reports of the devastation that Typhoon Haiyan caused in the Philippines, I knew I wanted to do something to help but wasn’t sure which organization(s) to donate to. As it turns out, many of my co-workers had the same thought, so when Molly and Diana suggested we combine our efforts here at the office, I was happy to participate. We started with the simple ideas of coordinating a food/clothing drive and lunch fundraiser, and everyone just joined in to help in any way they could. It was very heartwarming to see the many different agencies that gave their support at our lunch fundraiser, and I would like to thank each and every one of the staff that donated time and resources to this very worthwhile cause. Maraming Salamat!”
The Call-to-Action culminated on November 26th, with a Pilipin@ Plate Lunch Fundraiser, generously hosted by Asian Pacific Islander/Fil-Am staff members, as a final push for donations on the last day of the campaign. The event was attended by more than 55 supporters from KRA, EDD, and San Diego Metro Region Career Centers’ partners, including the EDD Unemployment Insurance Program, the San Diego Housing Commission, the South County Career Center, and Occupational Training Services. Everyone was invited to wear traditional attire—Barongs, etc, and to bring traditional Pilipin@cuisines; Filipino artifacts, décor, flags, and music! Maylynne Rayos, KRA Training Accounts Coordinator, created a PowerPoint Presentation depicting Typhoon Haiyan’s devastation and the relief efforts currently underway. It was a moving and powerful reminder of why they were all there.
Wong concluded, “The response to the Call-to-Action was incredible! Due to the selfless efforts of many supporters, the effort was a huge success. We collected more than 900 lbs of blankets, clothing, non-perishable food, and toiletries, and raised more than $450, which was donated to the Pilipin@Grassroots Organization, Gawad Kalinga! Other volunteers who made significant contributions to the effort include my co-workers Maxine Suka, Program Manager; Mary Jo Asunscion, Quality Assurance Manager; Celia Calubaquib, Quality Assurance Specialist; Sonia Hansen, Career Agent; and our EDD staff partners Canonizado, Myriam Gonzalez, Gerardo Patacsil, Julie Remdio, and Teresita Yalong.
* The San Diego Metro Region One Stop Career Centers are operated by KRA Corporation for the San Diego Workforce Partnership.