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Bainbridge community comes together for Typhoon Haiyan relief, benefit today at Filipino-American Community Center
For several on Bainbridge Island, Typhoon Haiyan did not just hit a country, but it hit family.
Uncles, aunts, cousins, grandparents, in-laws and families of people we know, the disaster has affected the lives of not just those in the Philippines but also in the U.S., all the way to Bainbridge.
This is why a few community members have taken it upon themselves to pull together funds and resources for the island country.
In what began as an attempt to help her uncle and extended family, one former resident has managed to raise more than $10,000 in less than a week.
Her fundraiser has transformed into an all-out effort to provide aid to her family’s neighboring village with the influx of donations.
“A lot of my friends from the island have been really supportive,” Lisa Javellana Hill said.
Hill moved off the island this past August after nine years. Even so, a network of Bainbridge Islanders responded to the call for help through her webpage, www.gofundme.com/rebuildourhome.
Of the supporters included an anonymous donor who promised to give $5,000 if the family reached an initial $5,000 before Thanksgiving Day. That first $5,000 seems to have been raised overnight with all the help coming in. Hill reached her $5,000 goal Nov. 19.
Hill’s extended family spans across the Roxas City and Baybay Beach area of the Philippines.
The first person she heard from in the aftermath of the typhoon was her uncle and cousin who live together in a tiny fishing village west of Baybay Beach. Her uncle suffered a stroke last year and his medical condition makes it difficult for him to walk.
“It started out just being for him, but the response was overwhelming,” Hill said. “Friends I hadn’t heard from in a long time, strangers …”
Her uncle’s home was destroyed. His roof is gone and in its place are now plastic sheets. Some of the walls are gone, fences are down.
“It’s hard to tell from the pictures my aunt took,” Hill explained. “It’s just a mess.”
Hill further explained that huge trees in the community had been uprooted and a lot of the homes have been reduced to bits and pieces. But altogether, Hill said, it’s hard to tell the true extent of the damage.
“(The government) really just doesn’t have enough information on all the people and locations that have been hit,” Hill said.
“For us personally … we were not confident that help would be coming from the larger organizations quick enough, so that’s why we did what we did.”
“That way we know what’s happening. It’s hard to know exactly what is happening when you’re just watching the news,” she said. “They’re doing the best they can, but there is a lot of damage.”
After the government estimated not being able to get electricity to the area until the new year, the first thing Hill’s family in the U.S. did was get a generator to the 80 to 90 families in her uncle’s community.
They were able to do this by sending money to another uncle who is a priest in the Philippines.
“He was able to mobilize his Jesuits pretty quickly,” Hill said.
They brought in the generator and set up a charging station for the community.
The next immediate steps for her family are arranging to move her uncle to Manila in the next week so that he can get medical attention.
“Thank God, they’re all safe,” Hill said. “My uncle is fine.”
Hill is now asking islanders to take time to visit gofundme.com and her page or to explore the long list of others raising money for the Philippines.
Funds are being raised all over the U.S. through the site.
Along with the personal fundraisers, the Bainbridge Island Filipino-American Community Center will also be hosting a fundraising event from 1 to 6 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 23.
They will be doing a raffle and serving a Teriyaki chicken lunch with rice, salad and dessert. Money donations given at the event will go to Tacloban for disaster relief. Food and clothing donations will also be going to the Red Cross in Bremerton for the typhoon.
Islanders are encouraged to come by for lunch or to drop off donations.
“There are so many other people who need help. We’re very lucky we have already reached our goal,” Hill said. “But there are people who are still in need of help.”