By Ling-Mei Wong
The Asian American Civic Association (AACA) celebrated outstanding students and community leaders at its annual gala “Their Courage to be New” on June 26 onboard the Odyssey Cruise Ship. Over 500 attendees were at the event and the agency raised more than $285,000.
AACA provides English courses and job training. Careers in Banking and Finance student Ann Zhang, received the George A. Russell Jr. Career Advancement Award. Despite having professional experience in China, her job opportunities were limited to waitressing at a Chinese restaurant. After completing the banking program in 2011, she was hired at Cathay Bank and recently was promoted to a higher position as an administrative coordinator at Eastern Bank.
Next Step Transitional English Program (Next STEP) graduate Reda Othman received the Richard & Susan Smith Family Foundation College Achievement Award. The native of Egypt came to America in 2012, only finding work as a baker. After completing the Next STEP program, Othman enrolled at Holyoke Community College, transferred to the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and is pursuing a master’s degree in education. Today, he works as a refugee family liaison for Springfield Public Schools.
Community Service Awards were presented to David Chang, Chinatown community volunteer and Richard Soo Hoo, president of the Richard Soo Hoo Insurance Agency.
“We are honored to recognize such dedicated individuals who work tirelessly for the community,” said Chau-ming Lee, AACA executive director.
Peabody Properties received the Employer Partner of the Year Award, taking in the most interns from AACA’s Building Energy Efficient Maintenance Skills training program in the past two years.
The gala was hosted by WCVB reporter Janet Wu and WHDH reporter Nancy Chen, with a lion dance by the Wah Lum Kung Fu Athletic Association and Tai Chi Academy and live Bollywood dance performances by Indian high school students from the AACA Youth Council. Local artists Livia Pan demonstrated Chinese knots and Geetha Ramakrishnan showed traditional Indian geometric line drawing, known as kolam or rangoli.
The AACA provides all immigrants and economically disadvantaged individuals with education, occupational training, and social services, enabling them to realize lasting economic self-sufficiency.
This post is also available in: Chinese