by Zion Yuson

We’re living in a very unusual time, with hundreds and thousands of people and businesses put to a complete stop from their functions due to the rapid spread of the COVID-19 virus. The current situation notwithstanding, it’s important to remember that there are many opportunities available for us to serve and to act as leaders in our own circumstances. Last March 28, in the first ever Universitas Fellows Night to be conducted online,  Mr. Johemie Lopez Quinones, the head of maintenance at Universitas, spoke to us about how he embarked on a heroic mission of service for the street-dwellers of Manila.

Johemie, 24 years old, is a resident of the city of Manila, the same city where he was born and raised. At the moment, he is one of the managing partners of Hey Homies, a company that provides services to maintain condo units and dormitories.

Among the remarkable attributes of Johemie are his energy and compassion. I can vouch for this as I’ve known him for four years now, and in every encounter that I’ve had with him, he never failed to infect not just me, but everyone around him, with his cheerfulness and willingness to help. No doubt, it is this same energy and compassion that led him to go out of his comfort zone and think of ways to serve others in this time of crisis.

A screenshot of the webinar. Johemie explains his encounter with a homeless family in Manila.

Since the government has imposed the enhanced community quarantine, many residents of the condo units and dormitories retaining the services of Hey Homies have gone home to their families, leaving these units vacant. Johemie came up with the idea of offering these vacant units as temporary shelters for the many street-dwellers, and providing them with food and facilities throughout the duration of the quarantine, all through the courtesy of Hey Homies. 

Through a mix of hard work and support from others, Johemie found a way to turn this idea into a reality. When I first heard the news that Johemie had been doing this, I was not surprised at all, and I just thought that, of course, he would do this. He’s Johemie! 

During the UFN, which was held through a webinar hosted by Zoom Cloud Meetings, Johemie spoke about this ‘challenge’ which he took upon himself, and inspired the participants of the meeting who were in different parts of the Philippines and even Europe. 

Attendees of the online UFN pose for a group screen shot.

With his talk, Johemie reminded us that service doesn’t stop in times of crisis; in fact, it is especially in times like these that our calling to serve becomes more vital. 

Finally, while the story of Johemie and Hey Homies is indeed a good example of how we can serve amidst this pandemic, we need not necessarily go outside of our homes to be of service to others. While we’re stuck at home, we can still serve and do our part by being useful to our families and household members, as well as by showing our love and support for our dear frontliners through whatever means we can. 

The last UFN was a big success and opened the door for more Universitas webinars in the future.

Support Hey Homies by donating cash or goods for the benefit of street-dwellers in Manila.

NOTA BENE: The views, thoughts, and opinions expressed in the text belong solely to the author, and the speakers mentioned in the article, and not necessarily to the Foundation.

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