- GK USA
Why Support SipaG? Let's hear from an American who is a true Filipino at Heart.
Updated: Jun 28, 2021
Herb Minnichhofer is a Master Financial Coach & Income Tax Expert Professional in San Francisco, California. He is a great dad to his 5 children and doting grandfather to his 10 grandchildren. Herb is a generous man whose heart is big enough to love and champion the SipaG program. SipaG is one of GK’s program for child and youth development that is molding poor and underprivileged children into future leaders through sports.
Herb played baseball growing up. Innately, he knows that playing team sports like football at a young age develops a child’s character. It provides practical life lessons that can be used later in life. One of the most important value that Herb himself learned from engaging in team sports is team work. When engaging in team sports, everyone has to contribute 100% to their respective roles, otherwise, the team will lose. At age 14, Herb learned this the hard way when he played baseball as a pitcher and got yelled at by his teammate. Because of poor vision, he failed to see the catcher’s hand-signaling him to throw a fast ball and instead, he threw a curve ball. Learning the important lesson, young Herb got glasses the next day.
How did Herb get started on his GK Journey?
Herb’s Gawad Kalinga journey wasn’t really just about SipaG. He actually started as a member of CFC San Francisco back in 2005. As a member of CFC San Francisco, he was invited to attend a Talk by GK Founder, Tony Meloto in San Francisco, Ca. At that time, he had experienced miraculous healing from his lung cancer through a pray over by his chapter. Experiencing both, he was moved to pay it forward by sponsoring one home in a village in Tatalon, QC that his CFC chapter was sponsoring.
Helping has become a way of life for Herb. In 2011, he volunteered at the Laguna Honda Hospital in San Francisco. He would assist Catholic patients who were physically challenged in attending mass. He was also serving as a lector for the mass once a month.
In 2011, Herb started a tradition of making yearly trips back to the Philippines with his family. Three of Herb’s children, Chrissy, Joe and Steve are half-Filipino. Herb first got married in 1970 to Irene, a Filipina he met at his first job at AAA Insurance right after he served in the Navy. They had 3 children Chrissy, Joe and Steve. Herb and Irene got married too early in life so they ended up in divorce in 1978. In 1979, he got remarried to Marcia, a Japanese woman and had 2 more children, Eric and Carla.
It was in one of these trips back in 2017 when he was re-introduced to Gawad Kalinga. He reached out to Tess Poling, Gawad Kalinga Sacramento Area Director because there wasn’t a GK chapter in San Francisco. When they met, Miss Poling invited him to a fundraising campaign by the chapter. After this meeting, he decided to immerse more on the mission work of GK on his next trip to the Philippines in 2018.
He was introduced to Bing Importante, GK Partnership Manager, who arranged for him to attend a 3-day immersion which included visits to GK Headquarter in Mandaluyong City and to the GK Villages in Tatalon, QC and Baras, Rizal. Both of which are sponsored by GK USA Sacramento. He also visited the GK Enchanted farm in Bulacan where he was introduced to the SEED Program. On his 3rd day, Bing invited him to witness the SipaG practices and tournament. As a sports enthusiast, he readily accepted. He may not play anymore but as father and grandfather, he regularly attend the practices of his sons and grandchildren.
What fuels his burning passion to champion SipaG?
During his very first visit to SipaG’s practices and tournament, he had two unforgettable and touching experiences that turned him into an instantaneous SipaG champion for life. First, he was moved by the dedication and passion of the SipaG kids towards the sports. Upon entering the football field, he encountered 4 children who traveled for several hours by jeepney just so they can play soccer. During meal time, he saw those 4 children shared one can of tuna and rice as their meal for the day.
Secondly, he also witnessed two boys who were one pair of soccer shoes just so they can play. One kid took the left shoe and would go bare foot on the other while the other child got the right shoe and would go barefoot on his remaining foot. HIs heart was so moved by these kids that he started collecting pre-owned shoes, jerseys and other materials when he got back to the states. He would regularly ship out boxes of soccer stuff to support the GK Sipag program. To date, he was able to ship to the Philippines a total of 2000 pounds of Soccer Cleats, Uniforms, shoes, socks and balls that have benefited children all over the Philippines. He also solicited support from his tax clients. He also involved his children in GK outreach.
So, what’s next for Herb?
Herb is truly committed to immerse in the mission of GK, particularly with the SipaG program. He would do what it takes including embracing digitalization. He is an old-school guy but he is now patiently learning and embracing digital tools. He is using Facebook to share and raise funds for the SipaG program. He does so with so passion and gusto. In the end, he knows his efforts will not be wasted because it is a program that bridges the gap for the poor children, allowing them to learn skills that will help them go much further later in life.