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On June 3, 2017, members of AFIRE held their second membership meeting in their new home: the Hana Center in Albany Park. The meeting was successful in re-affirming the bayanihan values among the members that guide their work and relationship with the community. It also provided members with the opportunity to restore their sense of safety and belonging in the new community space while renewing commitments to build community power.
As a member of AFIRE, Fe Mendoza emphasized the value of showing mutual respect and embracing differences. “Respect is what we need so that we do not abuse our power, our position, and our privileges”, she expressed during a teambuilding exercise.
“I feel welcome in this new space, and I do hope that everyone who would be able to come to this community center will feel the same,” Olola Ann Olib, another member, shared. She appreciated the meeting as an opportunity to re-evaluate what it means to be a member of AFIRE and what we can do to also extend support to those who are in need.
This membership meeting was the first gathering of AFIRE community members since the unlawful eviction from Rizal Community Center by the FACC leadership, which prompted the urgent transfer to Hana Center.
Michael Aguhar, executive director of AFIRE, happily welcomed the members to the new community center, and appealed to members to see the recent events as an opportunity to reflect on the future of our community, to determine how to provide a safe space for all people, and to celebrate the values that have all united us here today.
AFIRE members remain committed to working together while promoting the bayanihan spirit, without excluding or isolating anyone in the community.