Ocean City, New Jersey has always had a heart. It is a city filled with a government and citizenry who can come together in a moments notice to help those in need, all very aptly demonstrated, with all the local relief needed in connection with Super-storm Sandy.
Five years ago at the urging of resident and businessman, Rene Sese, originally from the Philippines, now living in Ocean City, NJ approached city management about an idea of bringing a weekend of Philippine entertainment to Ocean City.
Following up on the suggestion with a visit to the Philippine Consulate in New York has proved to be very fruitful to both the Philippines and Ocean City. Once the details had been ironed out and a relationship established, a close and lasting friendship took hold. Out of that friendship came the “Sister Cities” project.
In a effort to bring the project to fruition, Ocean City, NJ and San Jose Occidental Mindoro became “Sister Cities” four years ago. That partnership created an annual Philippine Trade Exhibition every summer which has now expanded to include Philippine culinary dishes and last year grew once more to provide free medical check-ups to anyone on the boardwalk attending the weekend.
However, this year the relationship has taken an additional turn with Ocean City gearing up to help with a much needed relief program for its “Sister City.” Visiting Ocean City Monday, November 25, 2013, a place he has become very familiar with, Zaldy Patron, Deputy Consul of the Philippine Consulate General in New York City was greeted by Ocean City Mayor Jay Gillian Monday morning so he could report on the devastation of Typhoon Haiyan (also known as Typhoon Yolanda) and to ask for any assistance that might be available.
Patron said, “We have had many typhoons with some reaching as high as a category three (3). This recent typhoon was the strongest ever recorded at landfall with winds between 170 and 199 mph, a category five (5). It has killed more than 5,200 people, left more than 565,000 homeless and without shelter and more than 2.5 million without food, including many children,” quickly adding, “Many children have become parent less, and many parents have become childless.”
Thankfully, San Jose Occidental Mindoro was not in the direct path of the storm and did not suffer the immense damage that other towns in the Philippines experienced. However, the need for assistance in many other areas in the Philippines have had so much devastation, that Patron reached out to Ocean City residents, for any help they can provide.
Once again, as they did for Super-storm Sandy, Ocean City is moving full steam ahead to help its “Sister City” every way they can to assist in a speedy a recovery. There are a number of ways members of the Ocean City community can help:
Donations can be made through OCNJ CARE at ocnjcare.org or by mailing checks (made payable to Philippine Jesuits Foundation with Yolanda Calamity Fund on the memo line) to OCNJ CARE, P.O. Box 807, Ocean City, NJ 08226.
Packages of clothing and other necessities can be dropped off at the Ebby, 820 E. Sixth Street, where Mary Ann Sese will transport them to Jade’s Filipino Restaurant and Grocery in Egg Harbor Township for free shipping to the Philippines.
Sese is also working with the school district to solicit $1 donations from the families of district children.
First Night Ocean City and Norman Schaut’s craft shows will make donations.
The city is in the process of planning a fund-raising walk in partnership with the Atlantic County Philippine Organization.
The city is planning a new event for March: the Mr. Mature America Pageant for men over age 60. A new first for Ocean City and perhaps the US, according to Mark Soifer, Ocean City Public Relations Director with proceeds going to both the Philippines and the Ocean City Ecumenical Council Food Cupboard.
Proceeds from a new $50 per table charge at the Philippine Trade Exhibition will go to the relief fund.