Dec. 25, 2009
Now that I have had a week to soak in the excitement of our 30th anniversary gala on December 16, I have to say I am pleasantly surprised at the outcome. Going into the gala, we were a bit under our fundraising target. I was quite confident that we would reach our goal by the end of the evening because I knew some of the MOCA Trustees and friends wanted to help us get there. But, in spite of this, I was very nervous that night about being the first speaker of the evening for a five-minute welcome. First of all, I hate public speaking (as I have all my life), and, second, I thought that if I messed up, it would be in front of over 500 very important people and friends of MOCA. Then, Gwynne Tuan (more than MOCA’s fundraiser but a long-time personal friend and MOCA supporter) gently encouraged me to insert a sentence about our fundraising goal into my speech.
I didn’t have much time to fret as we had two simultaneous receptions starting at 6 PM. The Honorees’ reception was upstairs and packed not only with guests but photographers and reporters. I had expected a handful of press people to come but didn’t count on so many! This was the beginning of a star-studded evening full of heartfelt speeches and genuine happiness and warmth.
When I was growing up in Ohio in the 70s and 80s, I had few Chinese American role models. As there weren’t that many people who looked like me in Mansfield, Ohio, I remember getting excited whenever I saw Connie Chung reporting the news or watched stories about I.M. Pei and his buildings in DC and Paris. Well, both of them were there on the night of the 16th. Mr. Pei, who was last year’s Lifetime Achievement Award honoree, presented this year’s award to his long-time friend, artist Wan-go Weng. Connie was the presenter for honoree Lucy Liu. Other role models there that night were Jerry Yang (one of this year’s honorees), and Dr. David Ho (past honoree). All the honorees (Mr. Weng, Ronnie Chan, Anla Cheng, Mark Kingdon, Lucy, and Jerry) touched upon the importance of identity, belonging and the mission of MOCA. One can’t help but be inspired by their accomplishment, spirit and generosity.
The importance of community was also featured in the wonderful video put together by Jackson Loo, who has been a long-time volunteer for MOCA and put together that video in about three days. The good works of the Charles B. Wang Health Center and that of MOCA co-founders Jack Tchen and Charlie Lai and its former Executive Director Fay Chew Matsuda (now at Hamilton-Madison House) and the incredible MOCA staff & volunteers past and present remind us of the unsung heroes of Chinatown who create lasting institutions and are a vibrant part of our growing and diverse community.
This event and MOCA itself are all about celebration of US and something much bigger beyond that. In the end, this was what I focused on when I got up to make my speech. Up on stage with the bright lights shining on me, I couldn’t see individual faces to make me nervous. Instead I felt all their positive spirits and warm vibes and made sure I thanked everyone and remembered to make my two appeals: help us reach our $1 million target and help us grow to a membership of 1,000.
Halfway through the evening, MOCA honoree and my personal mentor, Ronnie Chan, announced he would help us achieve our fundraising goal! We are still working on hitting our 1,000 membership target by the end of year so you still have time to get us there!
S. Alice Mong, Director, MOCA
Take a look at photos from the event here.