TANAUAN, Leyte, Dec. 30, 2014 — Extending assistance is not just about giving one-time aid to the needy, but doing it with long-term effects in mind. This is why a California-based compassion organization is pouring efforts into outreach programs in barangays that were devastated by typhoons Yolanda and Ruby.

Corporal Works of Mercy Foundation, Inc. (CWMFI), which is managed by Fr. Abe Palaña JCD, parish priest of the Assumption of Our Lady Parish in Tanauan, Leyte, offers livelihood opportunities and scholarships in Tanauan and Tolosa, two towns in Leyte still struggling to get back to normal after two major natural calamities.

Corporal Works of Mercy Foundation, Inc (CWMF) trains beneficiaries to pay it forward to others by working to send a family member back to school. (Photo: CWMIF)

Giving back

Shunning the usual style of other foundations that constantly solicit financial help from benefactors, patrons and the public to prevent their resources from getting drained, CWMFI make it a point that beneficiaries, especially the recipients of their pedicab distribution and scholarships make a good living for their family.

Vicki Palaña-Rollins, one of the major backers of the organization, said the scholars are requested to give 5 percent of their annual income back to the foundation once they land a job. The scholars are likewise encouraged to sponsor the schooling of a family member the moment they find work.

Once CWMIF trainees get a job they are enabled to pay it forward to other beneficiaries through the foundation, and send a family member back to school.

“In this way, we are teaching them of helping back, paying forward to other people needing help,” she stressed. She added, “When we help people, we do not want to go back to them. We have to move to another family and help them.”

Before mercy and compassion was popular

Palaña, executive director and treasurer of the group, which was established on Feb. 28, 2012, had been into aid programs for the less fortunate in Cebu, Tanauan and Tolosa for the past two years under the auspices of Americans Bill Nelson and Palaña-Rollins.

According to the priest, long before “mercy and compassion” became a buzz word among the clergy because of the Holy Father’s upcoming visit to the country, CWMFI had already served thousands of families since 2012 in the form of medical missions; weekly feeding programs for the poor; the elderly and the children; and extended assistance of persons with disabilities, as well as full scholarships to poor and deserving individuals. This they do without regard for political affiliations.

He said, giving assistance should be insulated from politics, especially in an organization like theirs. This, he said, is what the government should do as well. “The government has the obligation to give services to the people without any political color, give what belongs to the people,” he said.

CWMFI also helped in the rehabilitation of Yolanda-ruined chapels in Tolosa, Tanauan and San Jose parish in Tacloban City, the sacristy in the Tanauan parish church and the Mother of Mercy Hospital in Tacloban City. (Eileen Nazareno-Ballesteros/CBCPNews)