EXCITING TIMES ON THE PENINSULA
EXCITING TIMES ON THE PENINSULA
BY Gerrye Wong October 5, 2023
I must share a very gratifying experience I just had being honored along with two extraordinary other women as we were named “Individuals Who Inspire” by the San Mateo Organization of Chinese Americans (SM OCA) group last week at the Grand Palace Restaurant in S. San Francisco. At its first gala dinner since the pandemic, over 200 members and friends came out to support the club’s 50th Anniversary celebration. Linda Ng, National President of OCA-Asian Pacific American Advocates organization, and Aimee Yan, SM OCA president, told that OCA was established in 1973 during the Civil Rights movement as a non profit advocacy organization dedicated to advancing the social, political and economic well-being of Chinese Americans. There are over 50 chapters in cities and universities across the nation supported by the National OCA office in Washington DC.
Caption: Melinda Franklin, Honoree Anni Chung & SHE Board Director Linda Ng OCA National President OCA guests meet Emcee David Louie
Former National Executive Director of OCA from 1988-90, Melinda Yee Franklin recalled the OCA SM chapter was founded in 1987 and had as its signature programs high school scholarship grant programs, and the Speak and Lead with Pride Program which worked with middle and high school students on public speaking skills. Founders Wade Loo and David Chai were leaders of these projects, and much missed by long time members since their passing. Other founding OCA SM members in the audience that evening were Hayden Lee and Bob Yee, the first Asian American mayor of South San Francisco. Many city and state officials were at the dinner and presented proclamations of recognition to the three honorees.
Caption: Anni Chung & Self Help Board and Guests Gala 50th anniversary Emcees David Louie & Jana Katayama OCA SM event guests
Honored with me that evening was Anni Chung, CEO of Self Help for the Elderly (SHE , based in San Francisco. Chung explained in her acceptance talk that SHE began as part of the federal “War on Property” initiative in 1966 and now serves over 40,000 seniors in San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Alameda and Contra Costa Counties. Having served as SHE CEO since 1981, Anni Chung manages programs which have expanded to now offer a comprehensive range of eldercare services to seniors and caregivers in the entire Bay Area,
Caption: Raffle Drawing Announcers South Bay guests at OCA gala dinner Honorees Anni Chung, Karyl Matsumoto, Gerrye Wong
The third honoree was Karyl Matsumoto, the five time Mayor of South San Francisco and the longest serving council member of over 20 years. She spoke of her experiences growing up in internment camp as a 3 month old adoptee. Seemingly well connected and well recognized for her work in city government, she is recognized as being instrumental in bringing biotech companies to South San Francisco during her terms in office. Committee member Virginia Chang Kiraly introduced Matsumoto, and was joined by fellow gala committee members Raymond Tong, Martin Jung, President Aimee Yan and Billy Chow.
Caption: Emcees, President Aimee Yan Happy guests Monique Zhang, Nathan Louie, Brenda Wong, Gerrye Wong
Longtime news reporter David Louie, as MC, introduced me recalling my work as a columnist covering Asian American news in the South Bay as well as authoring two books, “Eternal Spring” about new immigrants being served by Self Help for the Elderly services, and “Chinese in San Jose and the Santa Clara Valley”. In my acceptance speech, I noted key elements during my career as a non paid retiree volunteer were founding the Chinese Historical and Cultural Project which built and gave to the city its Chinese American Historical Museum in 1991 and partnering with Councilman Raul Peralez and Connie Young Yu in 2021 to encourage the City of San Jose to adopt a Resolution of Apology to the Chinese community for its past wrong doings and actions towards Chinese as far back as the 1800s. I was proud to recall that San Jose became the second city to officially write this resolution of apology, but was soon followed by other major cities as San Francisco and Los Angeles and others.
Caption: OCA San Mateo members and guests South Bay guests greeted by David Louie Chinese Historical & Cultural Project members
The OCA members and friends were in a celebratory mood, after a four year lapse during the pandemic, and President Aimee Yan hopes to start up its past and new projects in the coming year with proceeds from this 50th anniversary gala dinner. Yan was proud to tell of some projects under her administration this year were teaching public speaking course to 20 high school students, granting 9 scholarships to college bound seniors, and hosting a high school program where interns presented a program on what to expect in high school years to 25 middle schoolers and their parents.
Caption: Redwood City Mayor Jeff Gee, Calvin & Gerrye Wong Foon Hay Seniors Golf Club members Gala Dinner guests
UPCOMING EVENT FOR HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS
Chinese Historical and Cultural Project is offering great opportunities for your high school child, grandchild, family member or neighbor to learn more about Chinese American history, and contribute to doing some community service . Student Metrica Shi told us to announce, “Curious about Chinese culture? Join the Chinese Historical & Cultural Project through the Student Docent Cultural Ambassadors Program (SDCAP) to learn all about Chinese culture and history, especially right here in San Jose. As a docent for the Chinese American & Historical Museum, you’ll interact with visitors from all over the Bay Area and present the fascinating, intricate history of San Jose’s Chinatowns. Throughout the year, you’ll have the opportunity to volunteer at History Park events like Lunar New Year, join in on outreach events, or even try out your hand at Dragon Dancing. We hope to see you for orientation in October!”
My Chinese Historical and Cultural Project has conducted a wonderful Student Docent Ambassador Program where high school students have participated in many of our events, been a guide at our museum, and even made videos and presentations on Chinese cultural customs. It will be an enriching experience plus look good on their college applications telling about their interest and involvement in extra curricular activities within their community. Pass on this info to some of your young student friends who gain a lot of good experience being a part of this program conducted by former educator Brenda Wong. Info below:
An Orientation for CHCP’s Student Docent Cultural Ambassador Program (SDCAP) will be held at History Park in San Jose. Come and contribute to preserving, educating, and promoting Chinese and Chinese American history and culture! This program is open to high school/college students and their parents.
The Orientation is on October 14 from 10:30 am to 3:30 pm, with snacks and lunch provided. Morning activities will introduce CHCP, History Park, SDCAP, members (returning and new), and oral communication tips. A docent training manual with a special tour of the Chinese American Historical Museum follows lunch, along with specific information about SDCAP events and projects for 2023-2024.To reserve your spot and your training material, please RSVP by October 7 to: SDCAP Chair/CHCP Director Brenda Wong: (H) 408-946-4015, (C) 408-228-2424, or email@example.com. Parents are also welcome to RSVP to attend the Orientation. For SDCAP applications and more information: visit our Volunteer page. For students and parents ready to join, emailing your application(s) to firstname.lastname@example.org ASAP will enable you to be updated and included in all current communications.
ASIAN WEEK GOES DIGITAL
In 1985 it was my pleasure to cover the Silicon Valley scene for the first Asian American newspaper written solely in English, ASIAN WEEK. At a Database Project Launch Party held aboard the historic Klamath ship docked in San Francisco’s Pier 9, owner Ted Fang, together with his mother, Florene Fang, were proud to announce that their Asian Week newspaper now has a digitized archive including all 30 years of Asian Week’s newspaper issues. The effort is currently available through your browser at asianweek.com/database.
Caption: Florence Fang, granddaughter, Ted Fang Celebrating digitalization of Asian Week SF City Attorney David Chiu
It was nice to reminisce with past writers and contributors Samson Wong, Emil Guillermo, and Carolyn Gan about the stories we had covered during this very important part of Chinese American history in the Greater Bay Area. Now students and historians can reference back to articles written about news events during those 30 years as well as notable events and issues happening during that time frame.
Asian Week Database Launch guests
Caption: Asian Week owner Florence Fang, center, reminisces with former columnists Gerrye Wong & Carolyn Gan.
Russell Leong, former aide to Alan Cranston brought a box full of issues that came from his office, as it was well known that this was the one English language Asian American periodical that was read nationwide and carried stories of interest to Asian American readers throughout the United States. This database will be a fountain of material of interest available to historians and students of Chinese American history for many years in the future, so congratulations to Ted Fang who worked tirelessly for many years to bring this database project to fruition.
Caption: ST Standard reporter Han Li, David Chiu Asian Week owner Ted Fang with former columnists Gerrye Wong and Emil Guillermo