A new project from Listos California and the Inland Empire Community Foundation seeks to keep Filipino Americans informed about resources available to them around the coronavirus vaccine, natural disasters and more.
It’s called the “Social Bridging Project,” and it uses voter engagement technology to reach vulnerable people by phone and connect them with resources.
Ian Kamus is an organizer with the Pilipino Workers Center, an organization that serves Filipino Americans around all of Southern California but has helped facilitate over 700 calls to Filipino American households in Riverside County alone.
He says volunteer callers, known as “bridgers,” speak the language of the people they call, which helps build trust and rapport.
“Our primary goal is making these calls is number one just to do wellness checks with community members, because a lot of them haven’t necessarily been reached out to by state and local governments about things that are available for them during the pandemic. So we want to check in with them and see how they’re doing, if their situation’s okay, and then also if there’s any needs that they have," Kamus says.
"For example, I personally talked to a Filipino American who was living in a care facility, so she was working as a caregiver. So she hadn’t heard about the different resources that were available, especially around COVID testing and the vaccine, because she was working 24 hours a day. And so basically what I did was I texted her and emailed her the links to, oh hey, here’s away to get tested in Riverside County, or here’s a way to schedule a test for you and your friends who might need it.”
Celia Cudiamat is the Executive Vice President of Programs at the Inland Empire Community Foundation, which is supporting the social bridging project.
She says it’s important to have trusted messengers who speak Tagalog doing the calling to Filipino Americans in the Inland Empire.
“Because they are vulnerable populations and because the populations are not used to typical communication mechanisms for delivering messaging, it’s got to be not only culturally relevant and sensitive but it has to be delivered by people that live in the community and have traction in the community for providing authentic services to those populations.”
You can learn more about the social bridging project at listoscalifornia.org.