CHAIRMAN/EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR WELCOME
Welcome to the 2016 Immigrant Social Services, Inc. (ISS) Fundraising Gala!! Tonight, we are gathered here to honor three distinguished individuals and institutions who have contributed to the growth and welfare of the Chinese American/Chinatown community. We are also here to celebrate our on-going partnership with each of you.
- Sandra K. Lee and Harold Lee & Sons – for providing insurance and serving as a key community and responsible business partner to New York’s Asian community since 1888.
Six years after the passage of the Chinese Exclusion Act (1882), the first of several immigration laws that prevented a specific ethnic group from immigrating to the United States, the Lee family began operating businesses at 31 Pell Street. The Lee family has been strengthening the economic infrastructure and foundation of and serving the NY Chinatown community for over 128 years. Sandy’s personal commitment to community service has led a number of organizations become anchor community institutions: the Chinatown Health Clinic Foundation and the Charles B. Wang Community Health Center, the Museum of Chinese in America (MOCA), NY Chinese Chamber of Commerce and the Beekman Downtown Hospital (now the New York-Presbyterian Lower Manhattan Hospital) to name a few. Sandy has advanced her family’s business and community engagement well beyond Chinatown’s borders to the national Chinese American and broader community. Her strong local and national voice for the health and welfare of immigrants, her advocacy for the needs and opportunities for minority businesses through a number of city, state and federal boards and commissions continues to directly benefit our communities.
- Virginia S. Tong – for her lifelong work and advocacy in promoting professional and cultural competency in all arenas that affect the Chinese American and other immigrant communities.
Virginia was born in Brooklyn in the late 1950’s. It was a time between the repeal of the Chinese Exclusion Act (1945) and the normalization of immigration quotas for the Chinese in 1965, where official immigration changed from zero to 105 to 10,000 persons per year. Having experienced a Chinatown that went through a dramatic explosion – a community that was once bound only by 4 square blocks, to its expansion north above Delancey Street and into the Lower East Side, to its sweeping growth throughout Queens, Brooklyn and beyond – Virginia recognizes that this intense transformation would create significant challenges to the burgeoning community. In order for these new immigrants to thrive, Virginia realizes high quality and culturally competent community service infrastructures must be developed to meet their needs. Virginia began her life journey in this groundbreaking work as a young high school student in the early 1970’s as an ISS staff member and mentor to our earliest generation of ISS children. She continues steadfastly in her commitment to the most vulnerable today. Her linguistically and culturally competent programs are recognized by numerous professional, city, state and national publications and boards. Virginia is a force that bridges our minority community women’s and children’s health disparities.
- First American International Bank – for bringing meaningful banking services, financial literacy and guidance to the community’s most recent Chinese immigrants.
As the Chinese community continues to grow and change with each successive wave of new immigrants from around the world, FAIB has been at the forefront in creating critical strategies and partnerships to meet the community’s mounting financial and banking service needs. With offices in Brooklyn, Queens and Chinatown, and a team that is well versed in Mandarin, Cantonese and Fuzhou dialects, FAIB has become the largest locally-owned Chinese American community bank in New York. With President and CEO, Mark Ricca’s stewardship of their core business activities and his leadership in their corporate involvement with the community’s affairs, a number of FAIB’s senior management team also serves as Board members on a number of vital Chinese American organizations. Our community, residents, businesses, and critical not-for-profit organizations are benefiting from FAIB’s smart economic and financial development strategies and informed corporate social responsibility engagement activities.
All together, these three leaders and institutions inspire us, nurture us, and teach us to find pathways and solutions to the escalating needs of our ever changing immigrant community.
From over 128 years ago to the present, these roles models paved the way forward: foundations laid; bridges and connections have been built; infrastructures created; resources advocated for and accessed; strategies implemented – but more importantly, working and engaging with the community to find common ground and developing partnerships to secure a welcoming and nurturing environment for all of us now and for our children’s future.
We want our children to learn these lessons from these wonderful role-models. We need all of you to continue your support so that we can share the joy of seeing these fantastically talented young people become the best they can be and what we hope for in our future leaders.
On behalf of the Board, the staff, volunteers, and most important of all, our children, thank you for coming tonight. We thank you for your continuing support for Immigrant Social Services.
Thank you very much for your continuing support!
Sherman Ng Charles Lai
Chairman of the Board Executive Director