DFS Saipan officially launched its new charity campaign in partnership with the Commonwealth Cancer Association to raise cancer awareness in the CNMI as well as support those affected by the disease. The launching ceremony for DFS Cares was held at DFS’ main location in Garapan.
“From Sept. 1 to Oct. 31, DFS will leverage its retail networking on Saipan to promote cancer awareness, information about CCA and services, provide a mechanism for customers and our staff to be able to contribute,” managing director of Mid-Pacific of Guam, Saipan, Japan Korea’s DFS Richard Gustafson explained in his opening remarks.
He explained that for any purchase of the selection of DFS Cares products, DFS will donate $5 toward the CCA this year. Also the purchasing customer will also be able to participate in a stamp rally and will have the opportunity to win exclusive prizes from several of DFS’ business partners, including The Shack, Grandvrio Resort Saipan, and Hyatt Regency Saipan.
Along with celebrating the opening of the community charity, CCA also was able to reveal its new logo. CCA’s Social Media and Marketing coordinator Viveka Rose Castro unveiled the organization’s new emblem, a bird of paradise flower; but instead of the familiar bold red and orange colors, each petal of the flower is filled with colors specifying different cancers that affect our community.
“It really represents how our survivors’ journeys are different, depending on your diagnosis, or you as a person, but we are all united, and stand united under this logo…and it kind of just shows that we as a community, as a whole, everyone who recognizes this flower, we stand in solidarity.” Castro also thanked Frank Elliptico and the Northern Marianas College marketing team that designed the logo.
In a post-ceremony interview with Saipan Tribune, Gustafson, explained that he had also lost his wife to cancer, and gave an expanded depth on the company’s goal, and heart behind the charity motivation.
“My family and I have been affected by cancer, and so I’ve always been interested and thought a lot about how we could do good as a big company, and I think that ‘big isn’t good, unless big does good.’ So we always aim to be not just a big company that serves our own interest, but think first about what we can do for the community, and in particular those that are suffering, those that are struggling; and through my own experience I can’t think of anything more destructive and devastating than either having cancer yourself, or a loved one, a wife, husband, child, you know a relative…so this is a way for us to really give back to this community that has done so much for us, and especially coming out of the pandemic where people are already struggling in so many different ways. We’ve been very blessed by Saipan so it’s a way for us to kind of give back to this really important charity.”
Gustafson also stated that the DFS Cares program will continue on in the future, and that the goal of the program was to consider and find ways to give back to the community. He stated that just as the company is working with CCA this year, they are also expecting to expand the number of charities they work with and contribute to, in the future. “We’re really looking forward to working together on this important initiative” Gustafson added
When speaking to Saipan Tribune, CCA president Bo Palacios said that DFS has been one of CCA’s longtime contributors, helping the organization achieve their mission. He referenced that during the pandemic, the organization had felt the brunt of virus, and fundraisers and initiatives had to be shut down temporarily, as the organization struggled to stay functioning. Then in December 2020, DFS stepped in and wanted to help, donating $30,000 to CCA, which helped sustain the organization throughout the year.
Palacios said that in the near future, CCA seeks to establish survivors’ sessions, where cancer survivors, or those individuals currently suffering with the disease can gather, share experiences, and support. He also encouraged the public to take advantage of free public screenings and be aware of, and seek to prevent preventable cancers.
CCA helps provide cancer advocacy, raising awareness, and seeks to provide support for those who suffer from the disease.
Along with Gustafson and Palacios, other executives from both DFS and CCA were present for the inception ceremony, as well as several other familiar faces, such as Ben Babauta Sr. and House Speaker Edmund Villagomez (Ind-Saipan).