FASGI: Empowering the FilAm community

by Joseph Pimentel/AJPress
The Filipino American Service Group Inc. (FASGI) has helped the Filipino and Filipino American community with social services since its inception in 1981.

Founded by Remedios “Remy” Geaga, the purpose of FASGI is to help the underrepresented and underserved of the community through social service, education and social action.

Executive Director Susan Espiritu-Dilkes now heads the non-profit organization centrally located in the heart of Historic Filipinotown. The organization is one of the oldest service groups in the area.

Among the activities FASGI coordinates includes transitional housing, food distribution, provides mental and physical health, and independent living skills.

Besides social services, FASGI also plays a vital role in organizing the community in education and outreach services.

Last year, the organization sponsored a Philippine National Commission on Culture and the Arts (NCCA) cultural performance Something to Crow About at the Alex Theatre in Glendale.

Earlier this year, FASGI joined forces with ABS-CBN’s Balitang America news program FilVote 2008 campaign. The campaign’s purpose is to get out the Filipino vote and participation in the upcoming Presidential election.

In a previous interview with the Asian Journal, Dilkes said it’s important for the community to come out and vote.

“This is the only way to get our issues heard,” said Dilkes.

FASGI created the FilVote campaign in 1996, according to Dilkes. The program came about after a 1996 LA Times article wrote about the happy life of of FilAms in the US but criticized their lack of united voice and political empowerment.

“Almost three-quarters of those [Filipinos] surveyed said they do not belong to a mainstream American political group. Eighty-four percent said they do not belong to a Filipino political organization,” according to the LA Times story Filipinos Happy With Life in the US but Lack United Voice.

However, that’s changed.

Since its inception, FASGI’s FilVote campaign has mobilized and registered over 25,000 FilAm voters in the Greater Los Angeles County, held non-partisan candidate forums and conducted voter trend marketing research.

FASGI is also the temporary home of the Filipino American Library (FAL). The research library has one of the largest collections of literature about the Philippines and from notable Filipino authors like Carlos Bulosan. The books are not available for check out. However, people are free to peruse the shelves for the wealth of literature.

FASGI’s help also enables FAL to conduct a bus tour of Historic Filipinotown.

FASGI plans to expand their social services. According to Jonathan Lorenzo, an administrator for the FAL, FASGI will open a geriatric clinic that would support a range of medical conditions and support services in nutrition and physical fitness.

(www.asianjournal.com)

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