It takes one piece to move so that other domino pieces can follow.  

Despite the severity of the current COVID-19 pandemic, and the increased levels of distress, I have seen the tremendous support of our community on helping the most vulnerable. It felt like a chain reaction of positivity, highlighting how human behavior can be tied to one another.

It was on early March that this series of generous acts came to fruition.  I saw a post in my social media feed about how our regional hospital’s resources were depleting.  The rapid increase of potential COVID-19 patients being taken in has resulted to the alarming decrease of hospital’s supplies.  Through my organization, Youth for Livable Communities, we started a youth-led campaign to gather aid to support the four main hospitals catering to potential COVD-19 patients.

Our call also included the support to security forces mandated to keep peace and order in hospitals and communities in quarantine zones.

Security force mandated to maintain peace and order in hospitals and quarantined facilities receives food relief packs.

Like a domino puzzle, engaging the community gives individuals the opportunity to become active stakeholders. There are multiple benefits of serving one’s community.  One of the best benefits is the positive psychological impact it offers to those who serve and those who receive it. Service increases overall life fulfillment and allows a deep sense of joy knowing that our service is greater than our being.  Countless researches have shown that individuals who volunteer have lower rates of depression.  Due to the innate nature of service, which increases social interaction, it is often a great support channel.

Individuals and organizations that responded to our open call agreed that they felt great after volunteering their time and resources.  We received a wonderful response with donations both in kind and cash. Through the donations, we were able to distribute food packs, personal protective equipment, meals and snacks. These were distributed to healthcare workers, police and security force, and community volunteers.  Philippine’s largest companies also organized in their own campaigns, and our team was able to partner with the country’s largest food chain as well as the top coffee traders company.  There are also a huge number of silent donors. Fresh produce were distributed to indigent families in mountain villages. This supported the farmers who were having difficulty in distributing their vegetables to the city because of the lockdown.

Every domino piece is important and serves a purpose. Community service likewise gives a sense of meaning and provides valuable life lessons.  “Family, friends and even people I did not know started sending in their donations.  Soon, the amount grew and we were able to extend help to another group of doctors who were producing medical-grade personal protective equipment with the help of volunteers.” Kimberley Gothong shares her experience in leading one of Cebu’s COVID-19 responses.  The work of every stakeholder in community service becomes essential, which ultimately gives every person the invaluable sense of purpose. “It was difficult to watch how this small group of people were combatting this disease without the proper gear on,” she adds.

Health workers take a pose with their protective equipment. Image from Kimberley Gothong.

Similar to First Respondents First campaign, our COVID-19 response grew larger in scope.  We have now initiated online learning classes in music and visual arts, mental health assistance, painting and sculpture auctions, among others. Part of the proceeds is meant to purchase more PPE’s and food relief packages in far-flung communities. Last Earth Day, the team was able to gather enough funds from online music and art sessions to distribute food relief packs to two mountain communities in Cebu. Indeed, it became everybody’s interest to be of help.

For the entire domino puzzle to complete its show, one domino piece has to move and create that chain.  Perhaps, that next random online post you see in your social media feed about serving others or donating one’s time might help to save a life of someone you know in this COVID-19 pandemic.