By: Jordan Wong
Over the past few weeks, an organization called The Foundation for a Better Life has been filming a documentary about Joshua and Joshua’s Heart Foundation. The documentary chronicles some of his daily life, from going to school, to hanging out with friends and to how he’s making a difference through the foundation. I, being the chair of the Jr. Advisory Board of the Foundation and one of his friends, have also spent some time being filmed. It was an awesome experience and one that, I believe, has taught me a lot. Here are some of the experiences I had during filming, and I hope that you enjoy them as much as I did.
Friday, February 24 – Fun and Games
Today, I was called by Josh and the film crew at Foundation for a Better Life to go after school with Josh to Splitsville, a bowling alley at Sunset Place in South Miami. I thought that was great for two reasons – one, I hadn’t been bowling in a while and two, I didn’t have to drive my brother home from school. After school, I met with Josh and the documentary film crew and we planned to meet at Sunset Place. When I told them that I was going to drive to Sunset Place, the crew put a camera in my car to document the drive over (which I thought was pretty cool). After arriving, Josh and I walked to Splitsville, met up with the film crew again, and set up a lane to bowl. They told me that there was no interviewing that day – they just wanted to watch us hang out, bowl, and play pool. It was so much fun – I ended up losing to Josh the first game, but I came back and won the second time. We were both pretty bad though – we both kept on guttering the ball at first, and couldn’t decide on a ball that was the correct weight. But, after I ended up being the least bad and winning, I rubbed it in Josh’s face (sorry Josh). During these epic battles, my dad showed up and Josh and I introduced him to the film crew. After we bowled, we decided to play pool. I hadn’t really played pool before (and Josh had) so I was getting punished for what I said earlier during bowling. Josh beat me for a couple games in a row, but I got better after my dad taught me better pool form. We played a lot of pool – with me winning some and Josh winning some. We would always lose because we hit the 8 ball in when we each were about to win, so every game was intense. The whole time I was scared the people who would watch the video of us playing would think that we had some mental issues. After a lot of eating and yelling, the film crew left and Josh and I went to my house to discuss a project I’m leading (Aid for Antipolo), to benefit a shelter for disadvantaged youth in the Philippines, where my family is from. Claudia, Josh’s mom, also came to join us for the meeting and to ask us about the afternoon’s event. Today was a great day, and I can’t wait to see this part of the documentary.
Saturday, February 25 – JAB Meeting and Grocery Distribution
Today, we were doing a distribution at Christ Episcopal Church in West Coconut Grove. The same film crew from yesterday was going to the event to film the distribution. WSVN Channel 7, a local news station, was also there to do a special report on the evening news about the distribution. When I arrived to the church (that was, thankfully, very close to my home) I didn’t notice the cameras at all as I started to set up the tables for the distribution. After we got all of the tables set up, I brought all of the JAB members over to the chapel near the room where we were having the distribution and had a small meeting. There, I told the members the plan for the distribution and other small matters. They were, like me, very eager to get started and help finish getting the food set up for the distribution. After the meeting was adjourned, the U-Haul truck arrived with the food. Everyone started unloading the food and getting it organized in its proper spot. I was in the truck, helping unload the food from it. It required a lot of sweat and teamwork, but with everyone there we got the job done quickly. We zipped past the cameras watching and went back into the distribution room to listen to Josh give the usual speech before a distribution – the prayer and the ground rules for every volunteer. Afterwards, we started letting people in. The line moved fast as the volunteers steered the people through the gauntlet of food, giving each their fair share. The people behind the tables made sure that everything was in order and that the food was stocked. I helped out with both sides of the equation – I took some people through the line and also gave out food from behind the tables. The people were so grateful that they didn’t even have to say anything – you can see the smiles on their faces. The camera crew was impressed by what they saw – they were steering their cameras back and forth throughout the room to collect great shots of us, JAB members, making a difference. Later on during the distribution, Josh, some other JAB members, and I went outside to give out water to the people waiting. I got to talk with many of them, and they were all happy that they were receiving food, but also surprised that it was kids giving out food. This one man named Richard was surprised because he couldn’t imagine himself doing what we do when he was our age, and was impressed seeing us actively making a difference in our communities. The distribution eventually ended with us helping around 200 families. We had some extra supplies left, so we packed them up to be stored for later distributions. The documentary team was happy after the distribution, and kept on saying that they couldn’t thank us enough for the work that we were doing. At the end of the day, I was glad that not only did our supplies help the people who needed it, but our act of doing so made many people’s days better as well.
Friday, March 24 – Project Interviews
Today was another adventure for me and Josh. After school, I drove Josh to Ceci Sosa’s house, where Josh and I were picked up by his mom. Josh, Ceci, other JAB members, and I were going to Elena Zapata’s house to get interviewed about Joshua’s Heart and discuss our individual projects. Elena lives in Fisher Island, an island that has no bridges to connect it to the mainland (you can only visit by air or sea). After picking up another JAB member, Thalia Castro, we drove to the ferry terminal then drove onto the ferry to get to Fisher Island. Josh used to go on the ferry every day to go to school on Fisher Island so he wasn’t impressed by the ferry ride, but I was. It almost felt like we were driving on water. After driving off the ferry (someone sprayed the car with fresh water to get rid of the salt water) we drove to Elena’s house. I was a bit nervous on the ride from the ferry to her house because of the upcoming interview, and it didn’t help when I walked into her house and saw the set for the interview. It was a stool with a big camera in front of it. There were also other cameras around, and huge mics to capture every single last syllable that came out of the interviewee’s mouth. This made me more than a little scared. After I got outside to wait for my turn, I drilled the facts about my project into my head; so much so that I could have sworn that I went to Antipolo. I also went over some stock questions that I believed the interviewers would ask, such as “How has Joshua’s Heart affected you?” or “What were the origins of your project?” This preparation and talking to the other JAB members outside calmed me down, and made me feel only slightly uneasy until my time came. After Thalia was done, I was called inside for my interview. Brian, the interviewer, and I got to know each other over talking about pizza. But, now that I think about it, it may have driven us apart because we fundamentally disagreed about what pizza toppings made for the best pizza. I will stay a pepperoni purist for life. The interview went the opposite of how I thought it was going to be – I was mostly prepared for the questions, and I barely stumbled. It was a fun experience – the interview made me stay on my toes, prepared for any question. After we were done, Brian said I did well which I greatly appreciated. I then went outside to hang out again with the JAB members. I eventually changed into my swim suit, jumped in the ocean a couple of times, then talked with all of the other JAB members in a hot tub after they were all done. We talked for a long time, accompanied with a super nice view of the Miami skyline. After I got home I thought that today, although unnecessarily scary at some parts, was a great day.
Saturday, March 25 – Packing of Hope Boxes
Today, we went through with the final day of filming. We went to the Perez Art Museum Miami (PAMM) early in the morning to pack food into Hope boxes, which we would later distribute to the homeless. After we got to PAMM, I saw a bunch of JAB members and the documentary film crew. I said hello to everyone, and helped with setting up. I went back to the cars with some JAB members to get the shoeboxes to be used for packing food. After we got the food and boxes ready to be packed, we held a quick meeting to plan the day and sign some thank you cards to be used in the future. I also got to talk about my Aid for Antipolo project, and ask for JAB members and their families’ support for my cause.
The only thing different about this meeting was that I had a mic on me, and I had cameras watching my every move. Thankfully, I was mostly used to being filmed at this point, and I was fine in front of the cameras. I could also tell why they chose the PAMM as a venue for filming – the view of Biscayne Bay with the cruise ships behind the meeting area was stunning. After the brief meeting, we got up and started to pack the Hope boxes. The cameras (and drones) followed our every move as we packed the boxes full of food, toiletries, and other items to help the homeless. I also filmed a video of my own for the “Super Service Challenge” so that we can enter to receive grants for Joshua’s Heart. After packing up all of the boxes, we went down to the garage and packed them into the cars to transport them to the location for our distribution. We carried all of the boxes downstairs and had to put them into many different cars (for there were so much of them).
Sadly, in the process, I shattered the screen of my phone because it fell off into the gravel on the way down some stairs. I didn’t really have time to think about it, as we quickly said goodbye to some people who had to leave. We then left PAMM and went over to a street near Camillus house to distribute the boxes. The cameras continued to film us as we got out of our cars and began to hand out the Hope Boxes to the homeless. They were very thankful for the boxes, and their grateful faces were so rewarding and were fully captured on camera.
Although the distribution felt like a normal distribution because this is what our organization routinely does, I felt that it would have a positive impact on the people who would watch the documentary and inspire them to also make a difference in their communities. After we finished, we said some parting words to the film crew and went home.
Being filmed for this documentary was truly a fun and rewarding experience that has let me revisit why I wanted to be a part of Joshua’s Heart, and why I still do it after all these years. Joshua’s Heart has had a big impact in my life, and I’m hopeful that this documentary about our organization and what we do for our community and elsewhere will also impact those who watch and inspire them to give back and make a difference.