A Palaweña who provided home-cooked meals to frontliners and income to local farmers whose products were used in the preparation of food has received an “Outstanding COVID-19 Volunteer” award from the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Regional Office in MIMAROPA.
Melissa Grace Olit, a hospitality management professor for 13 years at the Palawan State University (PSU) and founder of Chef Aiza’s Community Kitchen has conferred the “Outstanding COVID-19 Volunteer” award as part of the “Search for Outstanding COVID-19 volunteer” of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Regional Office in MIMAROPA, in collaboration with the Philippine National Volunteer Service Coordinating Agency (PNVSCA) on December 22.
“In my years of teaching and of service towards the community, I learned that if you successfully fed one person, then you will learn to feed a hundred,” Olit said during the online ceremony.
Her act prompted NEDA and PNVSCA with the “Outstanding COVID-19 Volunteer” for her “invaluable and selfless service in the region’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic and in promoting the valuable tourism in the community.”
She said that Aiza’s community kitchen was founded on a “simple desire” to help the community in these trying times through a voluntary giving of home-cooked meals and Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs) to COVID-19 frontliners.
“Aiza’s community kitchen was founded on a simple desire to contribute during the pandemic,” Olit said.
The said community kitchen started its operations on March 23, 2020, in collaboration with private organizations.
“Last March 23, 2020, when we started mobilizing just because we wanted to help, we wanted to contribute something. We did not know how far we could do. We don’t know how much we can contribute, but one thing was certain, we wanted to make a difference,” she said.
“I would like to thank the people who made all of this possible for without them there’s no us,” she added.
Also honored with the award for “Special Citation” was Silvany Delight Gastanes for her “invaluable and selfless service in the region’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic and in promoting the value of volunteerism in the community.”
The awarding ceremony was held during the NEDA and PNVSCA regional recognition ceremony online, commemorating the “Search for Outstanding COVID-19 Volunteer” last December 22, 2020.
The PNVSCA leads the promotion and coordination of volunteer programs and services in the Philippines. The MIMAROPA Regional Development Council (RDC), on the other hand, oversees the overall socio-economic development and coordinates development planning and policy-making in the island region.