Facebook becomes a tool to help a volunteer’s
hometown

Story of service • Philippines • December 2012


Larissa Geraldine Valdez
Social networking media can play a major role in raising social awareness and helping communities anywhere in the world. That’s what Larissa Geraldine Valdez, an IBM Philippines learning consultant, discovered by accident.

Larissa grew up in a rural area in the Philippines and enjoys reminiscing about the laid-back life in her younger years. She noted that Facebook is becoming part of daily life for most Filipinos and has especially helped the OFWs (Overseas Filipino Workers) counter their distance away from home.

Larissa joined a Facebook group created as a venue for the people in her childhood town to connect and enjoy the camaraderie and sharing of cherished moments from her province. One day her brother, also a member of the group, posted about social awareness, which resulted in a spirited exchange of ideas. Realizing there were people willing to give back to their community, but not knowing how, Larissa created a separate Facebook group and invited anyone interested to join. It opened the floor for ideas on how they could give back to their beloved hometown of Nabua.

Social networking media can play a major role in raising social awareness and helping communities anywhere in the world. That’s what Larissa Geraldine Valdez, an IBM Philippines learning consultant, discovered by accident.


Larissa Geraldine Valdez (shown) and IBM
Philippines volunteers use Facebook community
to help children in rural villages.

As a result, the NABUAS (Nabueños Affiliated by Unity and Service) Facebook community was born. Currently there are 1,543 members and it continues to grow. The vision of NABUAS is to build “a community where people are aware of their social responsibilities and have the burning passion to act unselfishly on these responsibilities with the end in view of a better society.”

"Using Facebook is a form of social empowerment,” explained Larissa. “You are able to draw out the best the community can give, not only the best in each individual. Most importantly, you can fulfill the objective you had set.”

To date, 45 volunteers from NABUAS, including 4 IBMers, have organized and spearheaded donations of toys, books, candy and cash. In coordination with village officials, they organized two Christmas Surprise events in 2011 for the children of Nabua, as well as summer activities that centered around storytelling and nutrition. A donation of an encyclopedia was made to the Nabua Central Pilot School and books were given to the Naipitan Elementary School.

“The personal impact is something indescribable,” said Larissa. “I found joy seeing those precious smiles on the kids’ faces. For the community, they now realize one does not need to be wealthy to help. Time and effort are important contributions as well.”

Another Christmas Surprise is planned for this December with a target to serve five barnagays or villages. More events and scholarship programs are also in the works, which means more volunteers and more donations are needed. Through the Facebook community, college students are signing up to volunteer during their vacation time. Overseas members willingly send materials and monetary contributions to help with the activities. Larissa plans to expand the Christmas Surprise events this year with the use of IBM Activity Kits related to education for young children – Math Games for Kids and Eat Your Science.

Larissa is now working to take NABUAS one step further and register it as a not-for-profit organization in the Philippines.

About these stories

Read about IBMers whose volunteer efforts are improving communities around the world.

Browse all stories

Activity Kits

IBM’s volunteer Activity Kits include everything you need for a range of activities.

View Activity Kits