Volunteers and members of the Ohala Foundation collected donations—food, drinks, and clothing—last Friday and Saturday at the pavilion across Modern Stationary and via a roadside donation collection at the San Jose intersection in front of Atkins-Kroll Toyota Saipan to help launch the foundation’s Rota office.
The foundation will open its Rota office and hold its first Ohala Food Bank on Rota on May 29 and everything collected last Friday and Saturday will be taken back to Rota.
Initially created after seeing the need for help on Tinian after Super Typhoon Yutu back in 2018, the Ohala Foundation today runs a biweekly food bank, a thrift shop-style program called the Ohala Clothing Closet, and the Ohala Healing Program, which seeks to provide financial assistance to families in medical emergencies and to purchase medical equipment for rural hospitals on the islands. According to Ohala Foundation co-founder Phillip Mendiola-Long, the Tinian-based nonprofit has thus far held 14 food distributions on Tinian and has given away over 14,000 meals on Tinian alone.
“A lot of times, families are a little bit ashamed to accept help. …[With Ohala] you don’t have to meet certain salary caps, you don’t have to show two years, three years of taxes, you just show up and get food. That’s what we’re trying to do, and that’s why we think we’re successful,” said Mendiola-Long.
The foundation previously held a donation drive to help launch the Tinian office in November last year and will hold a donation drive to launch a Saipan office sometime in September. The Ohala Foundation’s Saipan office is expected to be open around October and November this year.
For those who were unable to donate last Friday and Saturday, Mendiola-Long advises them to visit the Ohala Foundation website at ohalafoundation.org or to call 670-433-2664 and ask for Ed Arriola, who is an Ohala Foundation board member on Saipan who can help arrange for a pick-up or drop-off of donations. The Ohala Foundation is also on Instagram @ohala.foundation.
Mendiola-Long thanks the foundation’s current sponsors: Marpac, Mobil Oil Marianas, the Henghua Group, and the First Baptist Church of Columbus, Georgia and is open to more corporate sponsorships and cross-branding and cross-marketing opportunities in the future.