Consul Gen. Henry S. Bensurto will lead the Pledge to Help End DV.
Photo by VOLTAIRE V. YAP
Colma Mayor Helen Fisicaro will keynote the Oct. 3 event.
COURTESY COLMA TOWN WEBSITE
Actor and professional acting teacher Giovannie Espiritu will share her story.
COURTESTY SF ACTORS WORKSHOP
By Cherie M. Querol Moreno
Editor at Large
COLMA, Calif. – Consul General Henry S. Bensurto Jr. and Colma Mayor Helen Fisicaro will lead commemoration of October Domestic Violence Awareness Month (DVAM) at ALLICE Alliance for Community Empowerment's 13th Annual Free from Violence, a presentation-resource fair free and open to the public from 5:30-7:30 pm, Tuesday, Oct. 3 at the Colma Community Center.
The all-volunteer team known as the Kumares and Kumpares, ALLICE is collaborating with Union Bank, the Philippine Consulate General, Seton Medical Center/Verity Health System and the Town of Colma to stage the event. Fisicaro, a longtime advocates against intimate partner abuse, will deliver the keynote address and a domestic violence survivor will give testimony on her experience. Bensurto Jr. will lead the traditional Pledge to Help End Domestic Violence framed by the organization when it was formed 14 years ago. Actor and founder of SF Actors Workshop Giovannie Espiritu will share her story of being in an abusive relationship and what helped her heal. Commendations will be conferred on outstanding allies and a special award will be go to a lifetime community advocate
Newest Kumares Nan Santiago, a licensed marriage and family therapist at Kaiser Permanente Medical Center, and Ofie Albrecht, a senior peer counseling coordinator at Peninsula Family Service, will take a bow at their first DVAM event.
Santiago stepped in after having heard from nurse co-worker and ALLICE stalwart Malou Aclan about the nonprofit’s efforts to empower survivors of intimate partner abuse. (Philippine News Sept. 15, 2017).
Albrecht had been closely eyeing ALLICE as a Democratic Party comrade to Alice Bulos, the community leader after whom the organization named itself.
"Since I joined Peninsula Family Service more than eight years ago I became more aware of abuse among Filipino families especially the older sector," she related her involvement as a resource provider fielding questions from attendees at ALLICE events. In February she attended a meeting to get better acquainted with the team upon the invitation of Lasola Malay, a monthly speaker at “Kapihan,” a support group for seniors Albrecht coordinates at the Lincoln Community Center in Daly City.
Albrecht, a former corporate executive, brings her 8 years’ training and experience to “help older individuals deal with isolation, loneliness, grief, life changes and also connect those in need to the various resources in the San Mateo County.”
“I have learned how to listen attentively,” she emphasized a hallmark of counseling.
In relation to intimate-partner abuse, she noted that she had been friends with couples whom she had never suspected but later learned were in abusive relationships.
“I did not know what to do or say to them, particularly the victims. Their spouses would abuse them by yelling or insulting at them and mistreating them in public or at home.” Now she knows better.
Albrecht stressed that family and intimate partner violence can happen to anyone.
“Understanding that it is a learned behavior and recognizing the patterns can help individuals avoid entering in relationships with people who may be exhibiting abusive behaviors is crucial. Or those in troubled unions can learn healthier interaction by knowing where and to whom to turn. They need to see that there is no shame in being abused, that the victim is not responsible for the perpetrator's behavior,” she said. “Joining ALLICE raised my awareness about domestic violence and the need to promote prevention of elder care and abuse, thereby building safe and healthy relationships. I have also learned not be judgmental.”
The newbies like that their Kumares and Kumpares model the healthy interaction they teach at their elder care and abuse prevention events in the spring and intimate-partner violence prevention presentations in the fall. “ALLICE members are very supportive, collaborative, dedicated, professional, caring and fun group to work with,” praised Santiago.
Albrecht concurred: They are “friendly, talented, professional, compassionate and willing to help not only one another but also the community.”
October is designated as Domestic Violence Awareness Month in this country, hence the team's 13th commemorative event to date. ALLICE has been showcasing the occasion with yearly presentations to break the silence on the issue, bring together community members and resource providers to end the pervasive problem.
Around May, Older Americans Month, they showcase elder care and elder abuse prevention.
Donor allies Asian American Recovery Services, San Mateo Behavioral Health & Recovery Services, GMA News Online, Positively Filipino, Inquirer.net, The Filipino Channel, Philippine News and Philippines Today are generously supporting the community effort.
This year's ALLICE president Jennifer Jimenez Wong, MFT, and vice president Elsa Agasid, FNP, will co-emcee.
Resource providers led by Kaiser Permanente FilAm Association, Philippine Nurses’ Association, Health Plan of San Mateo, Center for the Independence of Individuals with Disabilities, StarVista, Filipino Mental Health Initiative, Always Best Care-Peninsula and HICAP Health Insurance Counseling & Advocacy Program of San Mateo County will offer and consult on their free services and programs.
Free refreshments will be served. Prizes will be given at raffle drawing (Must be present to win).
For more information, call the Philippine Consulate 415-433-6666 or visit www.allicekumares.com
PNews Editor at Large Cherie M. Querol Moreno is a Commissioner with the San Mateo County Commission on Aging. By day she coordinates community outreach for HICAP Health Insurance Counseling & Advocacy Program of San Mateo. ALLICE is her passion project.