Chairman/Executive Director Welcome
Welcome to Immigrant Social Services’ 45th Anniversary Gala. Tonight, we are gathered here to celebrate our reaching a major milestone. And we are here to pay tribute to ISS’ journey, the impact that we have had in this community, and those who made all of this possible.
We came to be because Dr. Matthew Cheng had the foresight and heart to create this organization to address the growing needs of our immigrant community. Although we officially incorporated the organization and acquired our tax-exempt status in 1972, we know ISS was operating long before that. Some of you here tonight is a testament to that fact, because you have either participated in one of our programs or were a member of the staff in those early days before 1972.
Just think, each year, at least a hundred or more ISS staff members, volunteers, interns, and summer youth team members working with 1,000 to 2,000 children, their families, and other neighborhood residents. In these 45 (or more) years, we can safely state, without exaggeration, at least 60,000 people have been served through our programs. To date, we have nurtured at least 3 generations of our community’s children and they have gone onto many successful careers, becoming leaders and making huge positive impacts in all sectors of the society. Many have also returned to ISS to become teachers, staff and mentors to our next generation of ISS children.
ISS faced many challenges in this dynamic and diverse community. As a small humble organization, we often work in harsh conditions, but we are able to overcome many of these obstacles and remain a vital resource to the Chinatown/Lower East Side community. We are able to reach this milestone because we are fortunate to have the thousands of committed workers, friends and community supporters like you who are selfless, encouraging and generous.
Tonight, our 4 honorees represent the best of our “ISS people”: participants, teachers, and community supporters. They are all leaders and groundbreakers, but most of all, they are mentors and role models for all of our children and the community at large. Through their exemplary actions and efforts to strengthen our community, ISS will thrive well into the 21st Century!
Messrs. George Tang and Peter Mei were participants in our ISS Flightz basketball program. They were able to refine their creative and leadership skills through team work, discipline and perseverance. They hone those attributes and applied them in their newly minted professional and business lives, bridging a critical element of our Chinese and American food cultures and more importantly, creating a “place” for their own generation – the “millennials.” They are role models for our youngest generation and are forging a pathway to become our leaders of the future.
Mr. John Yu is an active, civic-minded, generous and successful businessman. He has a keen sense of what it takes to sustain a growing business and how to meet the needs of maturing individuals, families and neighborhoods. John recognizes the complex infrastructure and relationship between good businesses and well balanced, stable and socioeconomically diverse communities. John is a community leader that focuses on the interconnectedness between the community’s quality of life and its residents’ welfare. John’s generous support for and partnership with community service organizations ensures groups such as ISS can successfully meet the community’s changing and demanding needs.
Honorable Margaret Chin is a well-known leader. First and foremost, Margaret has an extraordinarily long and impactful track record of community work and advocacy for vital and fair services and policies for the Chinese/Asian American community. She has brought that critical experience and perspective to become the first Chinese American woman elected to the NYC City Council. Margaret has been representing Chinatown since 2010. Somewhere behind all of those accomplishments and accolades stands a young, passionate and committed ISS “pioneer.” Margaret, in 1971, a year before our official incorporation, was a teacher/tutor at ISS. She taught limited English proficient immigrant children (not much younger than herself and not unlike when she first immigrated to the US) English and other subject areas. Margaret is the embodiment of our ISS spirit – we: share our good fortune and talents; provide opportunities for our next generation; strive for excellence; fight for what is right and fair; break barriers; create community; lead; and we give back.
Thank you for sharing this wonderful evening with us! Our organization’s fortunes are dependent on everyone here. You are the dedicated group of caring and committed people that sustains us by surrounding, nurturing, supporting and boosting us.
We are looking to strengthen the bonds that we are developing with you and we are looking to you to help us continue to reconnect with all those whose lives have intersected with us through these many years. Together, we will further shape ISS and our community to continuously uplift and actualize every child’s potential.
Thank you for your support and here’s to another 45 years!
Charles Lai Sherman Eng
Executive Director Chairman of the Board