Recap Yale Day of Service: Large Turnout for AAAYA NorCal Day of Service Events
On May 11, 2013, a large AAAYA turnout of 55 people participated in the three events sponsored by the Northern California Chapter of AAAYA. The largest event was in San Francisco, where 30 Yale alumni and their friends and family participated in the “clean alley” project of the Chinatown Community Development Center (CCDC), that was also co-sponsored with the Yale Club of San Francisco and organized by a team comprised of Wayne Lew TC ’72, Eileen Huang TD ’10, Eric Feng BK ’10, Jose Perez DC ’11 and Nathan Calixto BR ’11. Another 15 braved the early hour to take the 8:30 am Tiburon ferry for a full day of maintenance work on the historic Angel Island Immigration Station (AIIS), also co-sponsored with the Yale Club of San Francisco and the Yale Club of Silicon Valley, and coordinated by Julie Wong TC ’86 and Esther de Lory CC ’77. Finally, 10 alumni and their children volunteered to help a San Jose family shelter operated by Asian Americans for Community Involvement, an event co-sponsored with the Yale Club of Silicon Valley and organized by Brenda Lee PC ’81.
A Clean Sweep of Chinatown Alleys by Yalies
Exactly thirty Yale alumni and family assembled on a sunny Saturday morning at Portsmouth Square Park in San Francisco’s Chinatown to participate in the Association of Yale Alumni’s Day of Service event with the Chinatown Community Development Center’s Clean Alley Project. The event was co-sponsored and organized by the Yale Club of San Francisco (YCSF) and the Northern California Chapter of the Association of Asian American Yale Alumni (AAAYA NorCal). Four able site coordinators, Eileen Huang TD ’10, Eric Feng BK ’10, Jose Perez DC ’11 and Nathan Calixto BR ’11 ably assisted the event’s chief organizer Wayne Lew ’72 TC.
The age of the Yalies ranged from Class of 1956 to Class of 2014. There were at least one representative from eleven residential colleges, as well as the School of Management and the School of Forestry and Environmental Science. AAAYA and YCSF members contributing to the cleanup effort also included Harry Chang SY ’84 (former President of the AAAYA) with his daughter Lanae, Jimmy Lu TC ’77 (current President of the AYA Board of Governors), Lata Prabhakar TD ’97 and Tien-An Yang MC ’95.
The Yale volunteers were welcomed by the staff from CCDC and numerous of high school volunteers eager to show the alleys that they maintained during their school year and raised money for supplies with their Chinatown tours. After brief introductions and a group photo, the alums were divided into four teams – two to sweep and remove debris and two to paint over graffitied walls. As each team entered their designated alleys, CCDC guide would provide the history of the alley and other aspects of significance, including famous inhabitants, the seismic retrofitting of buildings, why a non-profit group had to assume maintenance of these alleys. (Answer: San Francisco had taken the position that the alleys were not public streets, but extensions of sidewalks, and therefore had to be maintained by the property owners.)
After two hours of work, the entire group was treated to an informational tour of some of the organization’s affordable housing projects. The first example was an older SRO (single room occupancy) hotel on Clay Street. Alums were able to see an early example of an older residential hotel that was rehabilitated and brought back to building code compliance several decades ago by the organization. A CCDC board member explained the myriad of issues confronted in running an SRO. This included the US Postal Service’s refusal to sort mail into mailboxes because SROs were regarded as hotels. Alums had the opportunity to see the Clay Street building’s communal kitchen, laundry and other rooms.
The tour then went to a more recent housing development, the I-Hotel, which now provides 105 apartments for the elderly. After a brief explanation of the infamous 1977 eviction of the International Hotel’s original tenants, many of whom were single, elderly Filipino men, the alumni group were able to see the luminous new apartment overlooking Chinatown, now occupied by one of the original evicted tenants. As remarked by the guide, this is now the new paradigm for affordable housing for seniors, which only came about through a complex mix of public and private financing, tax legislation and local support. The tour ended in the I-Hotel’s large multi-purpose room for Q & A, and concluding remarks.
Lunch was served on the roof deck of the new I-Hotel, with aerial views of Chinatown and North Beach. The lunch was jointly funded by CCDC and the Yale Club of San Francisco. The event was an unquestioned success. This was the first time that Yale has organized a Day of Service with CCDC and also the very first time a Yale Day of Service was held in San Francisco’s Chinatown. CCDC invited Yale alumni to share with friends the organization’s tours of Chinatown, which support the clean alley project (www.chinatownalleywaytours.org). Those wanting more information on the organization and how to participate with their activities can go to www.chinatowncdc.org.
(Summary by Wayne Lew)
Immigration Station at Angel Island Gets Needed Maintenance
For the fourth consecutive year, Yale alumni, friends and family members of the AAAYA NorCal, YCSF and the Yale Club of Silicon Valley rallied together for Yale’s Global Day of Service on Saturday, May 11, 2013. Fifteen hearty and determined volunteers assembled at 8 a.m. to catch a State Park ferry, eager to engage in beautification projects surrounding the Immigration Station of Angel Island, in San Francisco Bay. Together the volunteers tackled tenacious Italian thistle, raked weeds, swept walkways, shoveled debris, and filled dump trucks.
In a veritable “relay”, this popular service project was masterminded by veteran organizer, Julie Wong TC ’86 (former AAAYA NorCal President) and her daughter and son, Emilie and Marc. Julie arranged for free transportation, coordinated the work project with park staff, arranged for a group tour and then prepared food for the volunteers.
Lexi Jester CC ‘04, and her friend Florian Witzel, picked up the next lap by delivering a delicious chicken and “gorp” luncheon to the island via ferryboat. Co-organizer Esther de Lory CC ’77 took the baton on the day of the event by checking-in the volunteers, distributing nametags and YDOS buttons, overseeing the luncheon, and cajoling volunteers into posing for a group photo. Her daughter, Alexandra de Lory was enlisted as staff photographer. Finally, Grant Din BR ’79, Director of Special Projects for the Angel Island Immigration Station Foundation and founding member of AAAYA, brought historical perspective and on-the-ground leadership to the event. The group was graced by camaraderie, high spirits, stunning views of the Bay, a wonderful tour docent and perfect weather!
Everyone left with an appreciation of one of California’s great historical episodes, the beauty of nature, and the satisfaction of a project well-done. All in all, another successful Yale Day of Service.
(Summary by Esther de Lory CC ’77)
Helping a Shelter Home at Asian Americans for Community Involvement
Volunteers at the 4th Annual DoS showed their continued support of the important work that is at the core of Asian Americans for Community Involvement (AACI). As in previous years, the focus was with the Asian Women’s Home: lending helping hands, big and small, to maintain the shelter for victims of domestic violence in the South Bay. AACI shelter coordinator Trinh Nguyen and program manager Melissa Luke introduced us to the spacious home, providing program information and stressing the on-going need to offer a safe haven for abused women facing cultural and linguistic barriers. Participating were Day of Service site coordinator Brenda Lee PC ’81, Lilly Lim ’97 JD and her two children, Janice Kang Choi SM ’96 and her husband Dong Choi and their three children, along with close friend Nathan Carlson.
(Summary by Brenda Lee PC ’81)