Dearest Friends and Supporters of West Bay Pilipino Center,
Thanks for welcoming me to the world of nonprofit work!
On my first day at West Bay, my predecessor gave me a solid dose of reality. He told me: “Not only are you the executive director now. You’re also the janitor. Let me show you where to bring the trash.”
Since that day, July 21, 2014, I don’t know how many times I have cried at work, but not for the reasons you might think.
The People We Serve
Very often, I find myself holding back tears because here, in one of the most impoverished neighborhoods of San Francisco, I am exposed to the kind, generous and loving side of people every day.
Parents of our youth one day unexpectedly told me told me that they want to help West Bay, as it provide its free services to their children. They are donating those little essentials that add up – items like paper towels, toilet paper, printing paper, and pencils.
I ended up shedding tears in front of them, overwhelmed by this gesture. I have never experienced this in the corporate world.
One of the highlights of my week is Thursday mornings, when our beloved seniors come for an unfunded program. After a morning of Filipino songs, coffee and conversation, they hug me and our energetic and ever-patient Family Services coordinator Cecile Ascalon, and tell us how much they love us and appreciate us. Again, a big departure from the corporate world.
And then there are the children. One little girl came up to me and gave me a little drawing of an angel that she said was me! Me, an angel? How can anyone remain unmoved by that?
Our Staff, Volunteers and Friends
When I watch my Youth Program Coordinator John Dizon and education mentor Kirstie Dutton at work, they inspire me with their passion and drive to serve.
They started as volunteers, as students at the University of San Francisco (USF), and eventually applied to work at West Bay, because they believe in what we do for the community. To this day, we continue to enjoy the help of students from USF who regularly come to volunteer with us, thanks to our ten-year relationship with them.
Cecile Gregorio Ascalon, our Family Services Coordinator, is a family and marriage counselor who got her degree from the University of the Philippines (where I also went), and practiced at Ateneo de Manila University, a sister organization of USF. Her patience with, and kindness to the people she helps, is amazing, and makes me want to be more patient and kind with everyone else.
Then there are other community organizations around us that have shown incredible support for us. They treat us and our clients like extended family. Foremost among them is my neighbor and kapatid (brother), fellow Filipino Rudy Corpuz who heads United Playaz.
Join the West Bay Family
As a longtime journalist, I’ve always been around community somehow, but in a detached way, as an observer.
Now, I’m fully involved and committed, as the head of the West Bay family.
Please join me, my staff and the youth and families at West Bay where you will, I guarantee, feel your heart stir, and your spirit and humanity come alive as you experience the difference you can make in other people’s lives.
To get involved, do one, or all of these:
- Join our board and actively contribute your network, time, treasure and talent.
- Make regular donations to West Bay as a community partner.
- Volunteer to work.
- Help us raise funds so we can do what we do best – help those who need it most.
Here at West Bay, I’ve come to realize, and live, the true meaning of community.
It’s an indescribable experience. Come visit us.
Meet our youth, their parents and grandparents, and you’ll know what I mean.
My warmest regards,
Vivian Zalvidea Araullo