By Don Orozco
Lingap sa Mamamayan, the Iglesia Ni Cristo’s (INC) local and international outreach program providing free livelihood assistance to needy communities, successfully held two milestone “Aid To Humanity, Fight Poverty” activities at separate locations in New York and Connecticut last week, in what the Filipino church called “part of its continuing mission to positively and concretely affect the lives of people and raise human dignity in depressed and needy areas all over the world.”
The latest Aid To Humanity drive last September 14 chose Queensbridge, Long Island in New York City as the epicenter of the humanitarian campaign after it came to the INC’s attention that 48 percent of Long Island’s residents are rent-burdened and 19 percent live along the poverty threshold, thus barely able to scrape a decent living.
“We reached out to the Queensbridge community through the Felix Y. Manalo (FYM) Foundation by distributing 1,200 goodwill bags. This is just the beginning. We are determined to sustain our assistance efforts in the area and expand to longer-term initiatives such as livelihood programs,” INC General Auditor Glicerio Santos Jr. said.
Santos explained further that “poverty is poverty, whether you’re in America, the Philippines or elsewhere” and that the INC’s current drive was to “make even a small dent, through these acts of assistance, in the global fight against poverty.”
April Simpson, President of the Queensbridge Tenant Association, said most of the Queensbridge houses were opened in 1939 and currently provide basic shelter to over 7,000 tenants from all walks of life.
“Positive emotions were received during the livelihood event. Many residents eagerly lined up to receive goodwill bags to lighten their load in basic necessities. We’re all extremely grateful to (Iglesia Ni Crist)] for coming out here and giving back to the community,” Simpson noted.
Prior to the distribution of goodwill bags, attendees witnessed a 30-minute INC introduction video focusing on the homegrown Filipino Church’s many outreach projects throughout the world.
Clips included, among many others, images of eco-farming and community settlement projects in Africa and the Philippines.
A similar activity involving distribution of hefty care packages with food and essential household items was conducted later the same day in Hartford, Connecticut, also in the eastern continental United States, and was equally well-received by the beneficiary communities of needy residents.
The INC previously provided crucial assistance to victims of Hurricane Sandy in the east cost in 2012 by donating $150,000 to the New York City Police Foundation, the FDNY Foundation, the Bellevue Hospital Center and the Coney Island Hospital.
More recently in 2017, INC’s Felix Y. Manalo Foundation set up an extensive Aid To Humanity effort in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey in Texas by providing groceries, cleaning supplies and toiletries to affected residents.
Santos clarified that in its assistance programs in the U.S., the INC was focusing not just on disaster relief efforts but on more targeted campaigns at alleviating living conditions in inner cities and depressed areas.
“We don’t need typhoons, hurricanes and natural calamities to start working and providing help. Every day, there are mouths to feed, roofs to mend and souls to nourish. Equally important, we’re ready to lend a helping hand to people irrespective of social and political background, race, even religious persuasion,” the INC General Auditor emphasized.
“INC provides assistance to all, members and non-members alike. It’s our own way of giving back as the Church further expands to all corners of the globe.”