Filipino-American groups unite to aid typhoon victims

On Nov. 8, Typhoon Haiyan ravaged the Philippines, prompting local Filipino-American organizations to unite in an effort to aid the four million disaster victims who have been displaced from their homes.

Organizations from Greenwich, Stamford and other nearby towns were invited to meet in Greenwich on Nov. 14, when approximately 50 people ultimately showed up to discuss how the groups could combine their efforts. According to Princess Erfe, the town’s community development administrator, representatives from each of the Filipino-American groups present, along with a few outside individuals, including Ms. Erfe, combined to form a coalition.

The working group has been dubbed United Filipino-American Communities in CT and NY and is composed of residents from Fairfield and Westchester counties, she said.

The coalition’s first goal is to raise $10,000 by the end of December in order to immediately provide disaster victims in the Philippines with food, water and medicine — basic necessities that massive numbers of people currently don’t have access to, Ms. Erfe said. The first step toward achieving that goal was the coalition’s effort to coordinate upcoming events planned by the respective Filipino-American organizations represented in the group.

Each event, whether it be a holiday party or bingo night, will now also serve as a fund-raiser for disaster victims, Ms. Erfe said. In order to encourage more donations, activities such as raffles and silent auctions will be added to many of the events. Additionally, by organizing and advertising these happenings, members of each organization will be able to attend the others’ events, thereby making them more successful, she said.

Fortunately, Ms. Erfe said, the working group is already on its way toward collecting $10,000. At the group’s initial meeting on Nov. 14, those in attendance donated a total of $1,130 to the cause. In order to encourage the rest of the community to contribute, Ms. Erfe said, the coalition began developing a fact sheet at its most recent meeting on Nov. 18.

The sheet, she said, illustrates to potential donors how the money raised will be used to aid Filipino disaster victims through the assistance of various nonprofit organizations, and will soon be completed.

After addressing typhoon victims’ immediate needs, the coalition’s next step toward providing disaster relief will be working with local municipalities, as well as the Philippine Consulate General in New York, to organize and set up drop-off locations for community members to donate clothing, blankets, canned goods, and other useful items, Ms. Erfe said. The group is hoping that if the cost of shipping those goods to the Philippines is too high, larger international disaster relief organizations such as AmeriCares or the Red Cross will be able to provide assistance, she said.

Ultimately, after creating bylaws, the coalition expects to become a formal organization, Ms. Erfe said. In creating one, united group, members of the Filipino-American community will be better served and informed about issues that affect them. Additionally, she said, the coalition aims to create one combined calamity fund for future disasters similar to Typhoon Haiyan so that assistance may be provided to victims immediately.

Those interested in donating to typhoon relief may contact Princess Erfe at [email protected]

[email protected]

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