Chinatown is so important.
Photo courtesy of Jonathan Fong and Friends of Lincoln Square Park.
For Chinese immigrant families in Oakland like mine, Chinatown is so important.
Most seniors in our community don’t speak English, and Chinatown is the only place we can access health services in Chinese, shop for the groceries we like to cook with, and access other essential services. Whenever I need something, I know I can go to Chinatown and find it.
Not long ago, I was living in Alameda in an apartment with my son. I liked living there, but the landlord over and over again kept trying to sell the property and force us out.
I was stressed and scared. My son was going to move away, but I wanted to stay near my community. Where would I go?
A friend connected me with APEN organizers, who helped me access affordable housing applications. It was a lot of work, and most of my applications were rejected or waitlisted, but eventually I was able to find my current apartment, in a senior housing complex in Oakland.
I love where I live now. I like to stay active, and there is a recreation center in the back where I can take a walk, ride a bike or use the exercise equipment. And my Chinatown community isn’t far away. I feel so lucky.
It shouldn’t be this hard to find decent, affordable housing. My community needs resources so that we can preserve and protect the cultural community we have created over generations. This is what APEN is fighting for every day.
I wasn’t very active with APEN before the COVID-19 pandemic. But when the pandemic got really bad, APEN organizers reached out to me and asked if I needed any material support. They came over to my house and dropped off masks and hand sanitizer.
I felt so warm inside, so grateful, when this happened. This is what it feels like when communities like ours support each other. If I have any problems, I know I can go to APEN and that APEN organizers will try their best to help me. Their smiles warm my heart.
Since then, I’ve been motivated to contribute to my community, and I’ve gotten more involved with APEN. I’ve gathered signatures for local ballot measures and talked to my state legislators about the issues we work on. Just this month, I graduated from APEN Academy 301, a training program for APEN members like myself who want to build our organizing skills!
I don’t have much money, so this is how I give back to my community. I know there are many people out there, people like you, who want to give back to Chinatown too. Organizations like APEN are rare, and we need support. One way you can give back is by donating today.