By SIPA Executive Director Kimmy Maniquis
The Filipino* community continues to push through one of the toughest years in recent history. For us at SIPA, bearing witness to the resilience and generosity of our community has renewed our passion for our work. We have spent the year adapting and responding to the rapidly changing landscape—whether it was related to COVID-19, anti-Asian violence or the shifting economic times, it proved to be a challenging year. Now more than ever, we recognize the need to support the most impacted youth, families, small businesses and residents as we move into 2022. Here are some of the highlights of the past year:
COVID-19 outreach and education: As the waves of the pandemic progressed, we observed the disproportionate impact on Filipino medical frontliners and experienced what it meant to lose loved ones to the virus. Historic Filipinotown was identified as having the lowest vaccination rates in the City of LA, with much of the community being linguistically isolated and difficult to reach. SIPA conducted outreach and education efforts to provide in-language information and facts about COVID-19, vaccine education and vaccine clinics to support vaccination efforts throughout Los Angeles.
Response to anti-Asian violence: With 10,000 hate incidents against Asian Americans reported nationwide, and with 1 in 5 Asian Americans experiencing some type of discrimination attributed to their perceived race, the Filipino community was impacted heavily by these events. SIPA held healing spaces for community members, participated in coalitions to advance policy to address anti-Asian violence and convened a conversation on the intersections of gender and race within hate crimes through SIPA’s Pinay Empowerment Brunch. SIPA has strengthened connection to other social service, community organizing and policy advocacy organizations in support of larger efforts to continuously support community members and push systemic change.
Affordable Housing: The growing housing crisis in Los Angeles has required SIPA to take action on what part our small but mighty organization can play in addressing the issue. In partnership with Linc Housing, SIPA continued with the development of HiFi Collective, a permanent supportive housing community scheduled to open in Spring 2022. SIPA also entered into partnership with Meta Housing to provide resident services to the families at Lucena on Court and acquired an additional community center at the other end of Temple St. in Historic Filipinotown.
Culinary Roundtable: In support of the Filipino food movement and all of the incredible business owners, chefs and restauranteurs who faced unprecedented challenges this year, SIPA hosted a culinary roundtable to connect business owners with industry experts in the fields of accounting, law, real estate, marketing, finance and lending to establish a community of support during the ongoing economically uncertain time for small restaurants.
Youth and families: With the many challenges of the pandemic came unprecedented strain on families and young people. Filipino Americans demonstrate some of the lowest help seeking behaviors and youth have some of the highest rate of suicide attempts and completion. SIPA continuously provided education and support to reduce stigma around mental health, provided conversation, communities of care and resources to help with the emerging challenges brough about by the pandemic. SIPA’s family preservation efforts supported Filipino children and families in the child welfare system in an effort to remain together and establish strong and healthy familial relationships. SIPA also continued to provide cultural education and Filipino Summer Program to youth as the pandemic allowed in the early summer months.
LGBTQ parenting group: In partnership with Pastor Danilo Cortez, SIPA offered two cohorts of parenting group support to parents hoping to achieve loving relationships with their LGBTQ children. We continue to build this community of parents and caregivers so that we advance the care and paradigm shifting needed for our LGBTQ children to be loved as their full selves.
SIPA also continues to grow and has hired new staff to strengthen our pillars of work, now at 11 staff and 2 interns. As we await the opening of our headquarters at HiFi Collective, we have established our temporary home with our friends at Los Angeles College Prep Academy in Hermon. While this year required a lot from staff, we remain focused on wellness, community building and healing as central values to how we approach our service. I am in awe daily of the intentional and heart-centered service this team gives to the community.
The ongoing collaborations we have with our program partners including Asian Pacific Counseling and Treatment Center, Chinatown Service Center, SSG Alliance, API Small Business Program, A3PCON, HiFi Coalition and other organizations have strengthened our ability to provide quality services to Filipino and AAPI communities during a time that requires strategic coordination.
SIPA also is grateful for the generosity of the following supporters who have made this work and our ongoing growth possible: Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, Weingart Foundation, Bank of America, MTV Digital and Viacom, Nike, Google, Dodgers Foundation, Play Equity Fund, Asian Pacific Community Fund, TDW+Co, the City of Los Angeles, Every.org, the fraternity brothers of John Eric Swing and all of the individuals, corporations, foundations and community members who gave their time, talent and treasure.
In my first full year as Executive Director, I couldn’t feel more centered in purpose alongside the extremely talented staff and board who have made this organization the thriving place that we all hope SIPA would be. With this, I thank you for being with us on the wild ride that was 2021 and hope you continue with us as we move in community together into 2022.
Ingat at maraming salamat po,
*Filipino is used throughout to refer to Pilipino, Filipinx, Filipina, Pinxy, Pinay, Pinoy, Filipinx/a/o American and descendants of the Philippines and people of the Filipino diaspora in the United States. It is meant to be inclusive of all genders, migration and immigrant experiences, languages, generations and multi-ethnic/racial identities.