By Greg Hugh
The Community Room of Grammercy Park in Richfield, Minnesota, was filled to capacity when Chinese Heritage Foundation (CHF) recently held its 14th annual open house. The CHF was established in 2004 by members of the local Chinese community to preserve and promote the understanding of Chinese history, culture and tradition among all Minnesotans. In 2008, the CHF Friends (CHFF) was established separately to support the mission of CHF through educational and cultural activities, community outreach programs and fund-raising projects.
Prior to the start of the program, Margaret Wong, CHFF Board chair, welcomed the gathering and encouraged everyone to register and mingle with each other. Also, as is custom of most CHFF functions, guests were treated to a luncheon put together by Yin Simpson, event planner extraordinaire and CHFF Board member. Evidently, this was a very popular part of the open house since the gathering devoured the tasty offerings, which prevented most of the volunteers an opportunity to partake of the food prepared by a few CHFF board members and other volunteers.
Wong introduced Carol Barnett, composer of “Mother,” which was sung by mezzo-soprano Clara Osowsky, to make a few comments.
Representatives from previous CHF/F grant and fellowship recipients were then introduced to provide remarks. These included Source Song Festival, History Theatre, Theater Mu, Minnesota Historical Society, St. Paul-Changsha China Friendship Garden and the Department of History at the University of Minnesota.
Ken Lau, CHFF board member, introduced and recognized Will Ahern as Volunteer of the Year. Lau said, “At our Foundation, Will is our go-to techie and the mastermind behind all our digital capabilities. In all our ventures together, Will has always been prompt, courteous, cheerful, patient and accommodating. He is the super-administrator of our website, guiding us through migrating from various hosts and platforms as these availabilities came and went. He patiently taught us how to rebuild our website when that became necessary, and he figured out how to accomplish the tedious task of moving our 3,000-plus photos in the process. This is very important to us: our photos constitute the single most visited section of our website: there have been to date close to 700,000 hits for our 3,200 photos.”
Pearl Bergad, CHFF board member, then concluded the recognition awards by announcing that David Fong has been chosen to be honored as Minnesotan of Note. This recognition was likely the reason for the standing-room-only gathering, which reflects the degree he is respected by the community.
The following statement was part of the tribute Bergad included in her remarks. “Today we are here not to celebrate David’s financial success, or for being among the first to be inducted into the Minnesota Restaurant of Fame, but for being the model citizen that he has become. He is grateful for the many opportunities available to him in Minnesota, particularly in Bloomington, and has taken his civic duties seriously. He has cheerfully offered free space at his restaurant for the meetings of many nonprofits, including the Bloomington Lions Club and VEAP (Volunteers Enlisted to Assist People), and hosted many of their fundraising events. Throughout the decades, all local community fundraisers that support schools, churches, youth sports and other charities have found a receptive ear in David.
Bergad also acknowledge that Fong was very active in the Chinese community. “Within our community, David’s influence is equally wide-ranging. In 1970, David was president of CAAM (Chinese American Association of Minnesota) and under his leadership our community built the famous Chinese arch that graced Nicollet Mall during the Aquatennial Parade. The arch was later moved to the State Fair Grounds. During this same period David and [wife] Helen helped start the first Chinese Language School at Westminster Presbyterian Church in downtown Minneapolis. Helen was also a founding member of the Chinese Senior Citizens Society. In the ensuing decades both she and David have remained active in this organization. There are always extra box lunches for outings or extra prizes at annual events...”
Over the years, China Insight has extensively reported on the achievements of David Fong and family, who attended the event in full force in honor of the family patriarch. (These articles are available at www.chinainsight.info, enter “David Fong” in the search box.)
The open house concluded with comments from Ida Lano, CHFF board member, about upcoming CHFF events, details of which are available at www.chineseheritagefoundation.org.