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Alba Iulia
Wednesday, August 4, 2021

AFCS serving the vulnerable during Melbourne lockdown

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By Maria Smith

Covid-19 has never really left us, only coming back in more alarming variants. Whatever name it assumes, the fear lingers with devastating and concerning impact on the lives of the vulnerable members of our community, in more ways alarmingly felt than the previous year.

With this latest and extended lockdown, the Australian-Filipino Community Services (AFCS) has once again demonstrated its caring readiness to provide much-needed support to its members and whoever may require assistance. With its “Kalingang Pinoy” slogan, the AFCS has impressively switched on to its service outreach mode with its volunteers all geared up not only to deliver essential goods and services but also a big smile and a heart full of compassion particularly to our seniors who maybe too fragile and ailing, and those living alone needing support with shopping and other essential home services.

To combat some foreseen challenges of this latest lockdown, AFCS staff and volunteers have once again strengthened their commitment to bring hope in this crisis situation. Delivering delicious and old-time Filipino refreshments (like Spanish-inspired pan de coco with corned beef or coconut filling, among others) across Melbourne are mother and daughter team, Lucena Silangon and Jessica Moss. Elvie Altura Butra, Verna Sims, Francis Yap are also among various AFCS volunteers selflessly serving the Filipino-Australian community in particular.

AFCS Managing Director Corina Dutlow and Chaplain Norminda Forteza have coordinated these outreach service deliveries benefitting hundreds of AFCS members across Melbourne. This is just one of the many programs this not-for-profit and charitable organisation has continued to provide its clients and members. It has been serving through: group and individual social support, dementia-specific care programs, spiritual care initiatives, community arts and crafts, music therapy, partnership in respite and brokerage, counseling service and referrals, community education and youth outreach programs. 

Indeed, AFCS Prayer Vigil has continued to provide daily spiritual support. Online exercises are also on track. Some activities like dancing classes may have been put on hold at this time however, the AFCS has ensured the continuity of social support services through prayers, online connections and free shopping deliveries. Covid-safe procedures and policies have also been put in place to ensure safety among staff and volunteers.

The importance of community partnerships cannot be underestimated as AFCS has also continually supported Terry and Boy’s Masagana Fil-Asian Groceries in Boronia and Dandenong, Ramon Tisico’s RJ’s Fine Foods Longganisa and Jenny and Alvin’s Creations Bakery. These mutually beneficial relations can certainly contribute to a sustainable service provision for Filipino-Australians particularly during circuit-breaker lockdowns that we all hope become a thing of the past. 

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