Fellows Lead Relief Operations for Typhoon Odette Victims

By Andy Alegre, Global Fellow from the Philippines

With support from Goldin Institute board member Nathan Shapiro, I joined forces with Goldin Institute associate Susana Anayatin to deliver critical food and supplies to 482 families who were impacted by Typhoon Odette in the Philippines.

Leveraging our local contacts and connections with the Humanitarian Order of Sierra Falcones, Inc. (SF), Eastern Samar Chapter, we were able to distribute 482 relief packages filled with food, supplies, clothes and toys to targeted households affected by Typhoon Odette (International name, Rai) in Barangay Lunas, Maasin City, in Southern Leyte.

Barangay Lunas is a small community affected by Odette within the overall area of Maasin, which has a population of 87,446. The city is one of the hardest hit by the typhoon in the disaster-hit region in the Visayas with power yet to be restored and intermittent communication service.

The SF members and volunteers were assisted by barangay officials in the distribution of relief supplies. The food and non-food items were prepared and repacked over a few days in Borongan City, Eastern Samar through the support and donation of various partners, organizations, individuals, and volunteers. These critical supplies were then loaded in a truck and sent to Maasin City. Coordination efforts were made by SF volunteer, Mr. Ariel Mendez of the Lunas Elementary School to the barangay council for the relief efforts.

The area remains in need of support even though the Typhoon made landfall back on 16 December 2021. It brought torrential rains, violent winds, landslides, and storm surges. UN OCHA reported on December 30, that over 6.2 million people were affected across 10 regions. About 580,000 remain internally displaced with 356,000 people staying in evacuation centres while 227,000 people staying with host families or friends. The total death count is 397.

SF continues to plan and coordinate relief operations to different areas through its members and volunteers located in various chapters. Apart from the ongoing relief operations, SF strengthens its education programs through book drives, provision of education materials and radio-based instructions to remote communities at this time of pandemic.

Again, thank you to the board and staff of the Goldin Institute, especially Nathan Shapiro, for standing with us in this time of crisis and rebuilding.


Goldin Institute grassroots social change

Reflecting on a Momentous 2017


The Goldin Institute’s Board of Advisors had a busy year fundraising, donating their own time, and contributing other resources toward our mission.  Month by month, Goldin’s Board represented us at international conferences, collaborated with our partners around the world, and established funding streams that will be essential to expanding our efforts in the near future.

Founder and Board Chair Diane Goldin was positively peripatetic, visiting Haiti this April along with Executive Director Travis Rejman to get updates from our partners at KOFAVIV and the Bureau of Avocats Internationaux as well as to learn about the initiatives of the Jakmel Ekspresyon community arts center and the expansive work of Father Joseph Philippe in the rural Fondwa region. Diane and Travis were awed by the way these groups cobble together scant resources to create schools, social services and housing, and battle against gender-based violence, all in a context of dire poverty and shattered infrastructure.

Diane Goldin visits colleagues from Fonkoze in Central Haiti.

 

In May, Diane and Travis led a delegation to Panama City, Panama, for the #EndChildViolence global forum. This was the fifth global forum hosted by our partners at Arigatou International and the Global Network of Religions for Children, and proved an excellent opportunity for Goldin’s staff from Uganda, Columbia and the United States to interact with each other as well as with other grassroots activists from around the world.

Diane Goldin and Global Associates Lissette Roa (Colombia) and Dorcas Kiplagat (Kenya) meet Ms. Lorena Castillo, the First Lady of Panama.

 

Under the leadership of Board Member Mimi Frankel, co-founder of the Frankel Family Foundation and longtime champion of refugees, the Goldin Institute co-hosted Chicago’s World Refugee Day commemoration in June. Organized in partnership with local groups and the City of Chicago, the World Refugee Day events offered participants a chance to hear testimony from refugees about their experiences, connect with social services, share interactive educational experiences, eat food from refugees’ countries of origin, and otherwise celebrate the added diversity refugees bring to Chicago and the nation.

World Refugee Day celebration in Chicago

 

Also during the summer, Advisory Board Member Akif Irfan launched a fundraising drive with his family and friends to support the work of Global Associate Dr. Susana Anayatin and her team in the war-torn Philippine island of Mindanao. A former intern at the Goldin Institute who is now a vice president at Goldman Sachs financial firm, Akif has raised $5,085, with an ultimate goal of $12,500, an amount sufficient to pay for water pumps at 10 new schools that will serve thousands more children. In partnership with a broad coalition that includes both the Philippine and the Moro Liberation Army, a former rebel group, Susana and her organization have provided water pumps to more than 113 schools, serving over 40,000 students in a region where more than 70 percent of the population face obstacles to accessing safe water.

Akif Irfan's fundraising efforts have provided safe drinking water to over 1,000 students in Mindanao this year.

 

In September, Board Member Nathan Shapiro and his wife, Randy, were recognized by the Friends of the Israel Defense Forces (FIDF) at a special gathering with Aviv Ezra, Consul General of Israel to the Midwest. The FIDF Central Region recognized Nate and Randy for the vital role they played in rescuing Ethiopian Jewry, especially during the decade Nate served as President of the American Association for Ethiopian Jews (AAEJ). Under his leadership from 1983-1993, the AAEJ provided relief, rescue and advocacy on behalf of the threatened Ethiopian Jewish community in Ethiopia and Sudan, leading to the successful immigration of the Ethiopian community to Israel through Operation Solomon in 1991.

Nathan Shapiro receives award in honor of his work with the American Association for Ethiopian Jews.

 

Dr. Aziz Asphahani, an engineer, educator and entrepreneur with more than a decade of involvement with the Goldin Institute, received a prestigious appointment to the U.S. National Academy of Engineering this year. Dr. Asphahani, CEO of QuesTek Innovations, is internationally recognized for his work in the advancement of materials, reliability, alloy development and corrosion control. One product resulting from his award winning patents was used in the restoration and preservation of the Statue of Liberty during its repair in the 1980s.

UCLA Professor and Board Member Gaye Theresa Johnson came to Chicago in November for a discussion of a new book she co-edited, “The Futures of Black Radicalism.” Some 40 activists, journalists, scholars, students and others attended the event and participated in a lively conversation around the themes raised in the book, which reflects on the seminal work of scholar-activist Cedric Robinson, who helped define the black radical tradition and the concept of “racial capitalism.”

(Right to Left) Goldin Institute Board member Dr. Gaye Johnson and her co-author Alex Lubin engage in the discussion moderated by the Institute's Community Learning and Collaboration Coordinator, Jimmie Briggs.

 

Finally, Board Member Tom Hinshaw marked a milestone in his involvement with YOLRED, our Uganda-based partner organization that is designed and run by former ex-child-combatants. Tom provides financial and moral support to YOLRED’s music therapy program, one of a menu of services that directly address issues affecting ex-combatants, and this month, that program and others held a mass gathering and celebration for several hundred young people. It was a joyous event that demonstrated unequivocally how returnees contribute positively to their communities.

Music Therapy Student preforms as part of the talent showcase for children of former combatants.

 

[quote]“The Goldin Institute - because of philosophy - can be effective, getting grassroots people involved in these issues. I just think you have to be engaged and to me, life would be much more shallow if you aren’t.”[/quote]

- Tom Hinshaw, Board of Advisors

A roofing contractor in Columbus, Indiana, Tom’s involvement with Goldin attended dates back to 2004, when he attended Institute’s event in Manresa, Spain. Tom became interested in YOLRED after helping facilitate discussions regarding the reintegration of child soldiers in Cartagena, Colombia in 2007.
“If you’re going to be responsible, be engaged, and if you’re going to be engaged, be effective,” Tom explained in a recent interview.


Goldin Institute grassroots social change

Nathan Shapiro Recognized for Work with Ethiopian Jews

At a gathering in September 2017, Goldin Institute Board Member Nate Shapiro and his wife, Randy, were recognized for the vital role they played in rescuing Ethiopian Jewry by the Consul General of Israel to the Midwest, Aviv Ezra, and staff of the Friends of the Israel Defense Forces Central Region. Nate served as President of the American Association for Ethiopian Jews (AAEJ) from 1983-1993 and under his leadership, the AAEJ provided relief, rescue and advocacy on behalf of the threatened Ethiopian Jewish community in Ethiopia and Sudan, leading to the successful immigration of the Ethiopian community to Israel through Operation Solomon in 1991.

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"We're proud to take this opportunity to acknowledge Nate and Randy Shapiro for their support and continued dedication to the brave men and women of the Israel Defense Forces, and unwavering commitment to the state of Israel," said Tamir Oppenheim, Midwest Director of the Friends of the IDF.

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Architect of a highly successful brokerage firm, SF Investments, Nate was a dear friend of “Moe,” late husband of Goldin Institute founder, Diane Goldin. When he took over as AAEJ President in 1982, Nate stepped up the organization’s political advocacy as well as its direct relief efforts inside Ethiopia. AAEJ had been founded in 1969 to launch a public campaign for Ethiopian Jews, who faced discrimination and dire poverty within Ethiopia and had dreamed of emigrating to Israel since the founding of the state in 1948. Nate organized the U.S. Congressional Caucus for Ethiopian Jews, which negotiated with the governments of Ethiopia, the United States and Israel, and eventually won the backing of U.S. President George H. Bush, who personally convinced the government of Sudan to cooperate with Operation Moses and Operation Joshua, airlifts which finally brought tens of thousands of Ethiopian Jews to Israel.

From 1989 to 1991, the AAEJ facilitated the departure of Ethiopian Jews, known as the Beta Israel, from over 300 villages in the Ethiopian provinces of Gondar and Tigray to the capital of Addis Ababa. AAEJ then provided them with food, housing and medical care while Nate and other members of AAEJ’s leadership played a key role in the political conversations. Finally, in May, 1991, the Israeli government launched Operation Solomon, the largest single departure of Ethiopian Jews.

Its mission complete, the AAEJ was disbanded in 1993. However, Nate continues to work with Ethiopian Israelis – both the immigrants as well as their descendants – through Friends of Ethiopian Jews, an organization founded in 1998 to support grassroots organizations working for full integration and successful absorption.

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Goldin Institute grassroots social change

Board Spotlight: Nathan Shapiro


Nathan Shapiro was a dear friend of “Moe,” the late husband of Goldin Institute founder, Diane Goldin. “When he passed away he left behind a very intelligent woman who wanted to do good,” recalls Shapiro. “Diane was always out there. She had the energy and support, but also didn’t want to seek credit for what she was doing. She just wanted to make the world better. When people have money, they become accustomed to a certain life and don’t want to give up. Diane, she gives everything.”

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“Giving everything” is a commitment with which Nathan Shapiro is well acquainted. Involved as a mentor and supporter to Diane Goldin and the founding team of Goldin Institute, Nathan Shapiro is an iconic figure in the Chicago community and internationally, both as the architect of a highly successful brokerage firm, SF Investments, as well as for his long-time advocacy and support of the Jewish community in Ethiopia. Suffering under brutal oppression and famine-like conditions in the 1970’s and ‘80s, 14,000 Ethiopian Jews were airlifted to Israel in 1991 as part of the historic relief effort “Operation Solomon,” which Nathan and Moe spearheaded.

Frank Cohen, a friend of Shapiro for more than 50 years and fellow Goldin Institute board member, reflects:

[quote]Nate is one of the most well-respected people whom I have ever known. He goes about doing things for others with no mention or fanfare. He only wants to help others out of a sense of humanity.[/quote]

Two years after the airlift, Nathan left his position as president of the American Association for Ethiopian Jews (AAEJ) and later became president of Friends of Ethiopian Jews (FEJ), which he still leads.  As his eldest son, Steve, shared:

[quote]Our father has always forged his own path. He knew what was right and didn’t seek approval. For whatever reason, the plight of Ethiopian Jews was not being addressed, and so he made them his mission.[/quote]

As a recognized authority on humanitarian assistance and relief in crises, Nathan Shapiro has brought a critical depth of understanding and detail to Goldin Institute’s international efforts since becoming an inaugural board member upon the organization’s launch.

When asked what keeps him engaged in the organization since his role in the founding of the organization, Nathan shared:

[quote]The Goldin Institute has a great network for going into the most impoverished areas and doing essential community organizing, like what’s happened with the clean water project in the Philippines. Diane, Travis (Rejman) and their partners go out and connect with local people to talk about the changes which need to happen and how they can do it.  Assisting (former) child soldiers in Uganda, mobilizing communities to stop rape in Haiti, providing safe drinking water in the Philippines...the Goldin Institute really puts its ideas into action.[/quote]

Though he hasn’t had the opportunity yet to make any field visits to Goldin Institute global associates, Nathan has been a consistent cheerleader and advisor to to the leadership team, and Diane.

“Nathan has been a mentor to me and is one of the most generous men I’ve ever met,” marvels Diane Goldin. “Nathan has expressed pride in our efforts, accomplishing so much with limited resources. Since our very founding, Nathan has been a great friend to the Goldin Institute.”

We are honored to have Nathan Shapiro on our Board and thankful for his deep wisdom and insight as well as his generous support and dedication to our mission.