UTOPIA donates shopping vouchers to TTFAAS for the holidays
Seattle, WASHINGTON — As the Holidays approach, cold weather, rising COVID- 19 cases in the United States, and no sign of a confirmed repatriation flight, members of the Tagata Tutu Faatasi Alliance of American Samoa (TTFAAS) continue to turn for assistance to various organizations and resources within the different States where they are stranded.
In Washington State, through Makerita Iosefo Vaa, TTFAAS’ Vice President, with the help of friend and Washington resident, Jennifer Frost, the Alliance was able to connect with a Non Profit Organization (NPO) called UTOPIA (United Territories of Pacific Islanders Alliance), who demonstrated their “loto nu’u” by delivering $400 worth of Safeway vouchers to 80 people — a total of $32,000 worth of shopping.
These donations were made possible through a CARES Act funding grant UTOPIA received.
Taffy Johnson, the Founder and CEO of UTOPIA described her experience in delivering these vouchers to the stranded families.
“It was heavy,” says Johnson. “Hearing these families’ stories broke my heart. In one delivery, we visited with a family of 15 people all in one small apartment. With COVID cases rising in Washington, I feared for my safety as well as theirs, all cramped up in that small apartment. I’ve met a lot of elderly people too.
“We also have food drives every Thursday, but I know these vouchers can help these families in buying other basic necessities,” stated Johnson. She said it took them 10 hours to finish delivering all of their vouchers and the furthest delivery was about an hour away.
Johnson says she would like to continue this project by looking into donating PPE items, which include masks and hand sanitizers.
She pointed out that “the mission of UTOPIA is to provide sacred spaces to strengthen the minds and bodies of Queer and Trans Pacific Islanders (QTPI or “cutie-pie”) through organizing community care, civic engagement, and cultural stewardship.
“Founded in 2009, UTOPIA works to create a vibrant space for members of our community to address basic needs, build pathways toward new expanded career and life opportunities, foster a sense of common purpose and advocate for social justice, education and overall wellness among members of the QTPI community.”
Taffy Johnson hails from the Maene Taufete’e family of Nu’uuli.
TTFAAS extends their heartfelt gratitude to Taffy Johnson and the UTOPIA organization for the kind donation but most of all, for listening to their stories.