A Legacy: Service to Others

Opening Remarks by Board Chair Raymond L. Ocampo Jr. at the 2010 gala

It is my privilege to welcome you to our 14th annual gala, the fifth time I have had the honor as chair of the Asian Pacific Fund of providing the opening remarks.  Our gala is a traditional fundraising event: it’s a time to dress up and reminisce with old friends and meet new ones, and it’s a time to celebrate the work we have done for our community.

In this gathering of friends, we’ll take a few minutes to update you on what we’ve done in the past year, which our one and only Gail Kong, the President & Executive Director of the Asian Pacific Fund, will do when I conclude my opening remarks.

The theme of this evening’s gala is A Legacy: Service to Others, which makes it fitting that our honoree is the Honorable Norman Mineta, whom you’ll hear about from our board member and renowned journalist, Thuy Vu, and whom you’ll hear from after Thuy’s presentation--if flight schedules and traffic do not delay his arrival further.

Mayor, Congressman, Secretary twice over, and Chairman Mineta has provided a legacy of service to others that has been acknowledged and recognized with the nation’s highest civilian honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom.  And yes, he is the very same person after whom the San Jose International Airport is named.  We’re pleased that a living legend has allowed us to honor him tonight.

Whether or not you already know Norm Mineta’s remarkable story of achievement and service, hearing Thuy’s presentation will remind you how fortunate our community and our country have been to be the beneficiaries of his lifetime of public service.

Before I turn the podium over to Gail to update you on our programs, then Thuy to present our honoree, I’ll take a few moments to look back on my time as chair of the organization, to provide context for my closing remarks as we look forward from this evening.

In the beginning of my tenure as chair, the economy was booming and I spoke of a rising tide lifting all boats.  We turned the corner from an organization with virtually no endowment to one that reached nearly $8 million, thanks in large part to the generosity of Dado and Maria Banatao and their family, whose scholarships continue to send dozens of our most promising science and math students to college.

Among others, Jerry Yang, one of our earliest board members, and his wife Akiko, have made generous contributions to support our continued operations.

As we did our work identifying issues that most adversely affected the lives of Asians in the Bay Area, and as we raised money to highlight these problems and funded community organizations to tackle them, we strove to find a way to raise our endowment to a level that would ensure that the Asian Pacific Fund would continue to exist as a permanent resource for the community.

Meanwhile, the rising tide that had been lifting all boats receded quickly into a low tide, a recession that nearly took down the world’s interconnected economies.  Philanthropic giving has dropped as we debate whether we are headed for a double dip recession or whether we are out of an economic mire of our own making.

While economists and politicians debate cause and effect and the way to cure our financial ills, those who suffered while the tide was high suffer even more while the tide is low.

In the midst of the lavish settings in which we find ourselves, especially in a place as wealthy as our Bay Area, it is sometimes difficult to see the problems that surround us.  When we do see the problems, their range and enormity can overwhelm us, leaving us wondering whether we have enough fingers to plug the holes in the continuously leaking dike.

I hope I won’t have made you seasick but I’ll end my opening remarks with a final aquatic metaphor, a story this time, with which you are all familiar.

A young girl was walking along a beach upon which thousands of starfish had been washed up during a terrible storm. When she came to each starfish, she would pick it up, and throw it back into the ocean. People watched her with amusement.

She had been doing this for some time when a man approached her and said, “Little girl, why are you doing this? Look at this beach! You can’t save all these starfish. You can’t begin to make a difference!”

The girl seemed crushed, suddenly deflated. But after a few moments, she bent down, picked up another starfish, and hurled it as far as she could into the ocean. Then she looked up at the man and replied,

“Well, I made a difference to that one!”

We know that we cannot save every starfish in our community but the Asian Pacific Fund is doing what it can to save each starfish that it can, and we hope that you continue to help us in our efforts.

Here to tell you about our starfish saving programs this past year is our President and Executive Director, Gail Kong.  I will make two major announcements when I return to give my closing remarks.

 

Excerpted Remarks by Executive Director Gail Kong at the 2010 gala

Knowing that the economy was the number one issue, our 2010 publication Asian Outlook was about the impact of the downturn on Asians, especially in home foreclosures and unemployment.

Though some of us hold the stereotype that home ownership is more common for Asians than the general population, that’s actually not the case. 

Asians have lagged behind the general population in home ownership.  Then in the past decade we started to catch up.  

That meant that the collapse of the housing market hurt Asians disproportionately because we were buying homes when the prices were inflated.

In fact 67,000 Asian families in the U.S. lost to their homes to foreclosures.

We’ve also known that Asians are far more likely to live with siblings, grandparents, even cousins. So, more people are probably affected by a home foreclosed on an Asian owner.

On unemployment, Assemblymember Fiona Ma helped us secure data about unemployment insurance claims.

We found that Asians were the only race or ethnic group in California that experienced steady growth in unemployment in the past two and a half years. .  .more than 600,000 jobs lost, and Vietnamese and Chinese were the hardest hit.

We’re not suggesting that Asians are more deserving than others in these difficult times.

But what is unique about the Asian Pacific Fund is our commitment to both understanding the needs of the Asian community and mobilizing resources to address those needs.

In 2010 we distributed more than $600,000 in grants and awards. 

Our annual grants were selected to plug funding gaps for after school programs, some health care, protections for victims of domestic violence. 

We distributed 30 grants to agencies serving all the Asian ethnic groups throughout the Bay Area.

One donor asked us to make sure that Asians were fully counted in the census and, as a result, the Asian Pacific Fund became the largest financial supporter of Asian outreach in the Bay Area for Census 2010. 

Overall, our grants assisted the big Asian communities: Chinese, Filipino, Indian, Japanese, Korean and Vietnamese and also provided outreach for many groups that are often overlooked: Pakistanis, Sikhs, Iranians, Mongolians, Cambodians, Taiwanese and Samoans.

Now we know that it takes more than money for agencies to provide solid services.

Building agency capacity especially in areas of fund raising and governance are just as important. 

Our annual workshop for agencies featured our own board members and a major donor discussing what makes board service appealing and what motivates Asian donors to give. 

In our education programs, we supported 87 students in their pursuit of college diplomas, all through contributions from individual donors for whom we developed customized programs. 

We completed the 16th continuous year of our popular K-12 art and essay competition, Growing Up Asian in America.

Yes, some of the early winners are now parents themselves!

Through this program we encourage young people to understand and value of being Asian and American. 

Our traveling exhibits of winning entries are hosted in more than fifty public libraries throughout the year so that people learn more about their Asian neighbors.

The theme of our 2010 program was Expectations, encouraging youth to be and do what they feel in their hearts, and we had to pick the winners from more than one thousand four hundred entries.

A 2nd grade student winner, Sharanya Das, won $1,500 for her art.  Her expectation is to be an astronaut.

In 2010 we bestowed the fourth annual Chang-Lin Tien awards--$10,000 each--on two outstanding leaders in higher education.    This award looks to the future.  We give recognition to leaders who are ready to become college presidents.

In fact, our 2008 recipient was recently named Chancellor of UC Hastings School of Law here in San Francisco. 

Dean Shankar Sastry of UC Berkeley was a 2010 recipient. The second winner was Meredith Jung-en Woo.

Our goal has always been to make the Asian Pacific Fund a permanent resource for the Bay Area Asian community, donors and agencies alike.

While we are proud of our record over the past year, we know there is a great deal of work still to be done. 

Your support of our annual campaign and of this gala, makes our work possible and in many ways we are more aware than ever how important it has been for us to plan for the future of the Asian Pacific Fund. 

 

Closing Remarks by Chair Raymond L. Ocampo at the 2010 gala

Our honoree, Norman Mineta, has provided a wonderful example of leaving a legacy by serving others.  It’s the type of legacy that we in the Asian Pacific Fund want to leave our community.  As I indicated in my opening remarks, I have two major announcements to make in my closing.  I also will give thanks to a few of you and to all of you.

First, we have sought to increase our endowment to a level where we can be counted on as a permanent resource for our community.  We have done so not just despite our country’s economic problems but also perhaps because of it.  We want to help the poor, the sick, the abused and the disenfranchised in our community, one that receives less than one half of one percent of corporate and foundation grants even though we constitute more than 25% of the Bay Area population.  We want to do what we can to continue to provide assistance notwithstanding the gyrations of the stock market and the economy, and notwithstanding the political climate of the day.  We may not be able to save all the starfish on the beach but we want to be strong enough to make the attempt, one starfish at a time.

Thus we are pleased to announce, as our next big step towards our existence as a permanent community foundation, the award of a $ 5 million challenge grant, on a dollar-for-dollar matching basis, which, when completed, will put us on the doorstep of our goal.

This matching grant is a milestone for many reasons because we hope it will create momentum for a tradition in Asian American philanthropy that extends beyond family and close friends but indeed extends to the entire Asian American community.  We in the Bay Area, where Asians comprise more than a quarter of the population and have the most densely populated Asian communities in the country, can serve as a role model for others, just as Norman Mineta’s public service has inspired public service by Asians throughout the country.

The $5 million matching grant will require renewed and sustained efforts on the part of the Asian Pacific Fund and its supporters.  It will require the leadership of our Chair-Elect: this is my second major announcement in my closing remarks.  Our beloved Emerald Yeh will take over as Chair of the Asian Pacific Fund when my term expires at the end of this calendar year.  I know that you will join me in congratulating Emerald as I pass the torch of board leadership to her.

Before I turn the podium over to Emerald, I will close my remarks with appreciation to you, our generous contributors, our board, our President and Executive Director, and our Chair-Elect.

To you, our friends and contributors, we simply could not have continued without your support, financial and otherwise.  I spoke of the Banatao family and Jerry Yang’s family in my opening remarks and of endowment benefactor in these closing remarks.  There are many others, only one of whom I’ll single out, a gentleman named Robert Wong, who started a small scholarship for Fairfield students going to college then endowed it with a gift to the organization.  He recently passed away, leaving us with a bequest, our first, so that we could continue to award the scholarships that were established in honor of his parents.  In his life he remained low-key and never sought recognition for himself; in his passing I want to make sure that I thank him publicly for his quiet and enduring support, and for making a difference to many starfish in the Fairfield area.

To my friends and colleagues on the board, I thank you for having supported the cause with your time, money, energy, vision and heart, and in the myriad ways that make you special people whose company I will continue to keep and whose integrity reflects well on me and our organization.  I could and would single out each one of you but if I did I would be so effusive in my praise and appreciation that we would never get out of here, so I’ll single out only one, and that is our Chair-Elect, Emerald Yeh, while thanking every one of you for your dedication to work of the Asian Pacific Fund.

Before I single out Emerald, I thank Gail Kong for her enormous service to the Asian Pacific Fund and to the community.  Make no mistake about it: we would not be where we are as an organization and there would not be an Asian Pacific Fund without her loving dedication and her tireless work going over every detail related to the organization, including details regarding tonight’s gala.  In many ways, Gail is the Asian Pacific Fund.  Gail, the community will forever be indebted to you for your service and for providing a great example for tonight’s theme, A Legacy: Service to Others.  Thank you.

And finally, back to Emerald, who brings unimpeachable integrity, unrivaled credibility and utmost respect to the Chair’s position and to our organization.  It was Emerald’s work on the board of the United Way and her focus on the need to meet the needs of our community that resulted in the founding of the Asian Pacific Fund and in the hiring of Gail Kong as our Executive Director.  Emerald’s biographies of our honorees at our past galas in many ways have been our organization’s signature, an annual labor of love that has reflected how much we care about our community and the people in it.  As a founder of the organization, in some ways it has been inevitable and appropriate that Emerald is now our Chair-Elect.

Emerald is a 9-time Emmy Award winner but remains humble despite her many accomplishments.  More important than her accomplishments, however, is the way she has graced the lives of those who are blessed to be in contact with her, including all of us on the board, and many of you in the audience.  I’ve been on the board with Emerald for more than 15 years, and I can tell you that she’s outstanding, effective and inspiring in everything she does.  I think the best of the many compliments I can give Emerald is that she makes everyone around her a better person, a trait that I know she will call upon naturally as she takes on her new role as Chair and undertakes the challenge of the $ 5 million matching grant.

Please join me in congratulating Emerald and in thanking her for all she’s already done for our community.

 

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