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Hands on Manila Servathon

Protecting the environment through volunteerism Volunteers from 29 corporate groups participated in Servathon, the annual flagship program of Hands on Manila Foundation, Inc. (HOM), a volunteer management organization that links individual and corporate volunteers with its partner NGOs and and communities.  Revolving on the theme of environment preservation, 1,230 of mostly young professionals participated in Servathon held at the coastal areas located in Freedom Islands, Paranaque last October. Coined from the phrase “service marathon”, Servathon is HOM’s annual day of community service that mobilizes both new and experienced volunteers to work together in providing assistance to the underprivileged.  It aims to change people’s mindset in doing volunteer work from a one-time activity into something sustainable.  “Today, we are professing and renewing our life-long commitment to volunteerism and in doing good in our own way.” noted HOM president, Junie Del Mundo. Starter:  green weekend As a starter, HOM’s recent Servathon at the Freedom Islands helped individual and group volunteers realize how volunteerism play a crucial role in environment preservation through its various activities made available for them to choose from – cleaning up more than 800 meters of its coastal area, planting of coconut seedlings and mangrove planting. Bulk of the recent Servathon volunteers came from the groups of JP Morgan, LBC Foundation, One Meralco Foundation, Thomson Reuters and Wells Fargo.  All group assigned their associates to do almost all of the activities in the island, which resulted to 6,150 volunteering hours, 2,500 sacks of collected rubbish, 250 of planted coconut seedlings and 500 mangrove propagules. Majority of the collected rubbish, especially shoes and plastic, were all turned over to the Villar Foundation which were recycled by the underprivileged communities into hollow blocks (rubbish) and bags (plastic).  The finished products are sold by the community as part of their livelihood program, making sure that they do not solely rely on dole outs by volunteers. Freedom Island is said to be the only remaining coastal mangrove forest in Metro Manila and is now considered the last ecological frontier and sanctuary for local and migratory birds as well as native species of flora and fauna.  This condition is the very inspiration behind the recent Servathon committee’s decision to work on the island– ultimately reach its goal of making Freedom Island a protected habitat, securing Metro Manila its very own forest in the city. People, planet and profit sustainability Servathon is HOM’s annual day of community service that helps provide resources for its ongoing volunteer programs and projects.  To check on the people’s pulse on volunteerism and Servathon’s goal of making corporate groups expose their associates to community work, Servathon has major changes in its format to address HOM’s new form of project categories – the triple bottom line approach of people, planet and profit projects. The environment is a critical issue when it comes to sustainability.  By fostering the Freedom Islands, it will not only protect the future of Manila, but will also safeguard both the livelihood and well-being of the communities surrounding the islands. The rest of the 2012 Servathon volunteers came from BPI Foundation, CIBO, Converga Asia, Inc., EON, The Stakeholders Relations Firm, Far Eastern University, Forum K or Entrepreneurs Organization, HSBC, Megaworld Foundation, Inc., Ortigas & Company, Pancake House, Philippine Daily Inquirer, Philippine Transmarine Carriers, Inc., Rockwell Land Corporation, Romulo Law Offices, Senate of the Philippines and True Value.  Other partners and supporters included Maynilad, the Philippine Red Cross – Paranaque and Manila Chapters and St.Paul Paranaque Earth Warriors.
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