USF's Yuchengco Philippines Studies Program has been volunteering with San Francisco's Filipino community since 1999, putting in thousands of hours.
Filipinos living in San Francisco’s South
of Market (SOMA) district know the West Bay Pilipino Multi-Service Center for what it
offers area residents: Myriad services to students, adults, seniors and
veterans. Many of the same residents also know the University of San Francisco’s
Yuchengco Philippines Studies Program (YPSP), which has been an active partner
with West Bay for more than a decade.
Since 1999, USFers have volunteered at
West Bay — tutoring elementary through high school students, mentoring them,
and making them after-school eats. But the partnership really began to grow in
recent years, with almost 500 students contributing more than 4,000 service
hours between 2004-11. About 700 of those service hours were in 2011, said Jay
Gonzalez, USF professor and director of YPSP.
Gonzalez (left), professor and director of USF’s Yuchengco Philippines Studies Program
(YPSP), and YPSP Adjunct Professor Angelo Merino (right), who is also USF’s
boxing club head coach, recently published the book “Pancho to Pacquiao:
Philippines Boxing In and Out of the Ring.”
Most USF volunteers at West Bay are
Filipino or Philippines studies majors who want to connect with San Francisco’s
Filipino community and give back to the neighborhood that many of their families
began settling in the 1960s. West Bay, which has been part of the neighborhood
for 44 years, supports students with after-school tutoring and provides
families and veterans with financial literacy and housing assistance, as well
as public health and employment assistance.
“USF students are incredible role models
and have done a tremendous job fostering self-esteem in our kids,” said Rudy
Asercion, West Bay’s executive director. “This type of environment is
important, more than anything else, to motivating the kids to stay in school
and get good grades.”
USF YPSP students aren’t alone in working
with San Francisco’s Filipino community. USF Kasamahan members, a student-run
Filipino culture club, and Chi Upsilon Zeta, a social justice and community
service oriented fraternity, have partnered with West Bay to guide students on
field trips in SOMA, a neighborhood rich in Philippine resources, including the
San Francisco Filipino Cultural Center and the Filipino Education Center.
“Working with the Filipino youth of SOMA
brought me back to my roots,” said Carla Laurel ’10, a YPSP graduate. “It made
me feel responsible for the well-being of all Filipino Americans trying to
succeed in America.”
Laurel, who worked as a West Bay program
director from 2008-11, received academic scholarships from the Conference of Asian Pacific American Leadership and the Financial Women’s Association of San Francisco as a
result of her efforts to improve West Bay’s tutoring and homework program. She
increased student volunteer involvement by recruiting almost 50 USFers and also
acquired 20 retired computers from USF for the center. The computers allow students
to complete school assignments and give adults access to employment resources.
“USF makes it a point to educate its
students to use their minds and hearts to help those around them,” Laurel said.
“USF YPSP students have done just that by bringing richness and support to San
Francisco’s Filipino community.”