MOCA’s Second Annual Celebration of Community Heroes

MOCA Trustee June Jee, honorees May Y Chen & Rocky Chin, MOCA Executive Director Helen Koh, MOCA Trustee Sandra K. Lee and honoree Peter Lau

Article by Raymond Mei
Photography by Santiago A. Gomez Flor

Museum of Chinese in America (MOCA) hosted their second annual celebration of community heroes. This celebratory dinner was held as Golden Unicorn Restaurant in Chinatown to honor Rocky Chin, May Y. Chen, Peter Lau, and Families with Children from China of Greater New York for their tremendous dedication and contributions to the local communities in New York.

Mr. Rocky Chin

The event chair is our AsianInNY’s good friend and MOCA Trustees June Jee, with co-chair Thomas C. Ahn (Vice President, Real Estate Division, The Mount Sinai Medical Center).

MOCA Trustees June Jee, Herb Tam (MOCA Director of Exhibitions), Carolyn Antonio (MOCA Deputy Director of External Affairs)

Rocky Chin is a long time community advocate and leader for labor and human rights in New York City, particularly in the Asian communities. May Y. Chen, former vice president of UNITE HERE and a founding member of the Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance (APALA), like Chin, is a very strong activist for minorities. Peter Lau is the President of Confucius Mannings Pharmacies as well as an active health educator in the Asian communities. And Families with Children from China of Greater New York is an organization that supports and guides adoption processes. The cocktail party was held at 6:00pm followed by the main ceremony and dinner program at 7:00pm.

As I entered the cocktail party, the mood in the room was relaxed and guests were just beginning to arrive. Guests mingled among each other enjoying some drinks and their company. Maureen Hoon, PR & Communications Manager of MOCA, showed me some information on the night’s events and who to expect.

Mr. Rocky Chin

Rocky Chin, Director of the Office of Equal Opportunity and Diversity for New York City’s Commission on Human Rights (HRC), was the first of the honorees to arrive. He was dressed nicely in a suit with a cross-body backpack like he just came directly from a long day of work. As soon as he stepped in the room, other guest immediately approached him and congratulated him for receiving the honor. Humbled and pleased with gratitude, Chin makes his way through the crowd shaking hands with more guests. I finally get my opportunity to meet Chin as I swerved through the crowd. I congratulate him and his success as an activists and a leader. We shook hands and Chin smiled with sincerity as he thanked me for my kind words.

May Y. Chen, who is also the wife of Rocky Chin, arrived later. Cheerful and delighted to be in the presence of so many supporters and friends, Chen also made her rounds through the crowd taking pictures and sharing pleasantries with the guests. At this point, the room was packed with large crowds and loud conversations. Chen was occupied with friends. I had the opportunity however to speak to Helen Koh, the Executive Director of MOCA, who shared with me that the honorees were voted by a committee. She also added that Rocky and May was an obvious choice. I told her this event was excellent idea and that I hope it continues for years to come.

Peter Lau arrived some time later, but yet again crowds form around him not giving me much of a chance to speak to him. Before I knew it, the awards ceremony was about to start and Lau was on his way. Lau, like Chin and Chen, is also very active in the Asian communities. Lau is a health care educator, conducting pro bono seminars and radio programs for local hospitals, health clinics, senior citizen centers, and organizations such as the American Cancer Society. His pharmacy, Confucius Mannings Pharmacies has also been a financial supporter of many community activities.

MOCA Executive Director of Ms. Helen Koh

The honorees made their way to the awards ceremony as well as the rest of the invited guests. The cocktail party was a great way to kickoff the night of celebration. It was easy to see that everyone there were great fans and supporters of the honorees. The Museum of Chinese in America organized a terrific event and we look forward to their 3rd and ongoing celebration of community heroes in 2014.

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