Marianas Variety

Last updateThu, 20 Jun 2019 12am







    Wednesday, June 19, 2019-5:32:48P.M.






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Container of relief goods arrives from SF Bay Area

VOLUNTEERS from MyPros and full-time service missionaries from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints made speedy work of a shipping container from the San Francisco Bay Area on Wednesday; in two hours, the group of fifteen to twenty volunteers managed to unpack and organize hundreds of boxes of donated clothing, tools, toiletries, water, furniture and food.

“I’d like to thank our brothers and sisters in California for the container of donated goods,” said Rep.-elect Sheila Babauta, who also served as the MyPros Disaster Recovery Center Manager at the old Marianas Baptist Academy campus that morning.

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MyPros and full-time service missionaries from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints unpack the Bay Area container.  Photo by Sophia Perez

“It is so heart-warming to know they are thinking about us from thousands of miles away.”

One of those sisters in California was Tiffany Lin, a Bay Area resident who lived in Saipan for three years and served as Department Chair of Pediatrics at CHCC. Shortly after Soudelor made landfall, Lin coordinated with non-profit Direct Relief to ship relief goods from California to Saipan.

The day after Yutu, she began arranging for another Direct Relief shipment. That’s when she learned about the outpouring of support coming from different communities across the mainland.

“I found out other cities were going to start organizing drives to fill a container to be shipped to Saipan so I decided to reach out on Facebook to see if there were Bay Area people who were interested in doing the same,” she said.

Through networking with friends across the West Coast, Lin managed to convince a Matson VP to donate a container to the cause. She also brought onboard Vera Calvo Garces of Payless, who had managed the logistics of loading containers after Soudelor. Then she teamed up with Adeleyah Mojica and Jazmine Anastacio to coordinate drop-off sites for donations throughout the Bay Area.

Thomas Manglona, a Rota-raised Cal student and past writer for Variety, acted as Berkeley’s drop-off site coordinator.

“Managing the drop-off location was relatively smooth,” he said. “A lot of folks from the East Bay came out and donated, even those who have no link to the Marianas… I think the project was a successful community effort and demonstrates the love our community has for each other.”

When it came time to load the container on November 17th, Lin and her fellow volunteers were surprised to find that they needed the entire day (8 a.m.–3 p.m.) to finish the job.

“We were worried we weren’t going to fill it,” Lin said. “We filled it to the literal brim.”

“One person who was unrelated to the CNMI spent a week looking up construction items that would be needed for rebuilding and pricing out the cheapest options,” said Lin. “He was given a portion of the GoFundMe money to spend, which allowed us to give a lot of brand new construction equipment, which we knew would be important to have at this stage of recovery.”

Lin gave the following estimate for what items were in the container: 61 boxes of baby items, 42 boxes of cleaning supplies, 201 boxes of clothing, 125 boxes of construction equipment, 45 boxes of food, 35 pieces of furniture, 138 boxes of home goods, 101 boxes of hygiene products, 4 boxes of pet items, and 22 boxes of school supplies.

This level of organized generosity is rare, even in times of crisis. In fact, on Wednesday the MyPros volunteers happened to mention offhand a few unexpected donations that they’ve found in other containers: a “party tent,” a Wii Fit board (but no Wii console), two bottles of personal lubricant (one opened), a set of framed family photos, and a pornographic DVD.

“I think sometimes people don’t know what’s actually in the boxes they’re donating,” one volunteer reasoned. Fortunately, Lin was more meticulous.

All of us involved had heard first-hand stories from friends or family about what happened, so we all had our own personal motivation for helping,” said Lin. “I did this because I consider Saipan one of my homes… I felt like I had a lot to give back.”

“But many of the other volunteers are from the CNMI or have family in the CNMI, so they had even more of a connection to the people there,” she continued. “And of course we could not have done this without MyPros, who initially partnered with us, and Karidat who also joined.”

“We at MyPros are working tirelessly with other nonprofits to ensure we help members of our community recover from the devastation,” Babauta told Variety on Wednesday. “We have the best volunteers and we are so grateful for them. Many of them lost their homes and still make time to serve our community.”

“It will take time, but we will recover,” she said. “And we will do it together.”