The day PAFCOM served up Filipino food at a soup kitchen

Taino sisters Krismarie, 15, (in white sweater) and Marykirsten, 14, were among the young volunteers who served up Filipino food on Presidents Day.

Taino sisters Krismarie, 15, (in white sweater) and Marykirsten, 14, were among the young volunteers who served up Filipino food on Presidents Day.

On February 18, which was Presidents Day, sisters Krismarie and Marykirsten Taino woke up early to help out at the Let’s Celebrate Soup Kitchen on Fairview Avenue in Jersey City.

The teens, together with their mother Maricar Taino, were among the dozen volunteers from the Philippine American Friendship Community, Inc. (PAFCOM) who served breakfast and lunch meals to more than 200 individuals. For the 4th year, the soup kitchen celebrated Philippine Day with the theme: “Taste of the Philippines.” PAFCOM served Filipino food – such as Chicken Apritada, Pinakbet, Pansit, a fish dish, etc. — to soup kitchen regulars among them homeless folks and families impacted by the economic downturn, such as job loss and foreclosure.

“What great honor to celebrate the spirit of Presidents Day through community service in the heart of Jersey City’s revitalization zone by helping those in need,” said Jersey City Council President Rolando Lavarro Jr.

Lavarro and his family were among the volunteers. They were joined by PAFCOM President-Elect Helen Castillo, Assistant Treasurer Lita Roxas, Public Relations Officer Maricar Taino and her two daughters, and PAFCOM friends and supporters. Students had no class that day so Miss Teen PAFCOM Krismarie and her sister offered to help.

“PAFCOM encourages intergeneration relationship as one of the focus goals this year,” said Castillo.

PAFCOM officers and volunteers at the Let’s Celebrate Soup Kitchen

PAFCOM officers, led by President-Elect Helen Castillo (in blue shirt), and volunteers at the Let’s Celebrate Soup Kitchen

“We started this four years ago when government grants became less and less for programs such as soup kitchen, but so much is needed in the community,” said Castillo. “We collaborated with Let’s Celebrate in helping less fortunate Jersey City residents and thought of the idea of serving Filipino food.” Some of the people served said Filipino food was “amazing!”

The partnership with Let’s Celebrate is in line with PAFCOM’s mission for community assistance and outreach, it said in a statement. Since 1982, Let’s Celebrate has been “helping people move from hunger to wholeness,” through services such as Meals on Wheels, the Soup Kitchen, food pantries, financial planning and education, and affordable housing.

There were shelves and refrigerators that were stocked up by the volunteers. The pantry was prepared for the next day’s meals feeding.

“You all made this pantry look very beautiful,” said Regina Miller, director of Admission at Let’s Celebrate. “Something that we all together want to give to the participants – their wholeness.”

For PAFCOM, it was a huge day of support for the community on Presidents Day. The non-profit organization vowed to continue its partnership with Let’s Celebrate in accordance with its mission of “nourishing closer relationship…with American communities and multi-ethnic groups to achieve a more neighborly community life.”

For Krismarie and Marykirsten, who helped ladle food on plastic plates and assisted with cleanup, it was an eye-opening experience, according to their mother.

“What they learned is that people come from different levels of society. You just have to treat everybody equally because you don’t know just by looking at them what they’re going through until you have a conversation with them,” said Maricar. “That’s one experience they learned.”

© The FilAm 2019

Council President Rolando Lavarro Jr.

Council President Rolando Lavarro Jr.

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