tv Asian Pacific America with Robert Handa NBC February 21, 2016 5:30am-6:01am PST
hello and welcome to "asia-pacific america." i'm robert honda. thank you for joining us. we start by looking at the past, present, future of the cameron house, a nonprofit in the heart of san francisco's china town that empowered generations of chinese-americans and their families through financial assistance, youth afterschool program, and so much more. we'll talk about their july cup gala. we'll talk about a program that achieved similar success in the community.
emq family first started as a small agency in san jose and has grown to a statewide organization offering community-based programs to children in crisis ander that families. we'll show the big events coming up in the community calendar and the pacific exposition. the beauty and culture of the exotic flowers all on our show today. the two agencies we are highlightings on today's show have rich histories of helping people in need. the cameron house carried the name of a woman who saved thousands of chinese girls from servitude and human trafficking. the program started in 1874, and continues to this day growing and expanding. joining me now is the executive director of the house. she's known as a passionate community builder with more than 25 years of experience in a variety of roles spanning the globe. born in hong kong, raised in
brooklyn, and with us here today. thank you for being here. >> thank you for having me. >> give us a little bit of a background. a pretty rich history for the cameron house. tell us how it started and how it evolved to what it is today. >> sure. in 1974, the presbyterian church decided to create an occidental mission home for girls. located in the heart of san francisco's china town that's how the cameron house started. it was known as ox dent l. because of the historic period of the time it was mostly chinese men that came over for railroad and the gold. the woman who did come in, there were a lot of girls and young women who were smuggled into the country. so unfortunately because they were, they were here for servitude and human trafficking. they basically kind of were not recognized by the immigration office. so there was no legal system to care for them or take care of them.
so basically the presbyterian women's group decided to save so. girls in china town and that's how it began. >> wow. >> what about dalafina cameron? >> she was 23 at the time. she was going to come for one year and teach sewing and fell in love with what she was doing. the woman who hired her, she had passed away two years after dalafina came. she ended up becoming the superintendent of cameron house. she dedicated her life, the next 40 years, literally running through alleyways, across rooftops. she saved thousands of chinese girls and young women. >> such a long history. people forget how tenuous these organizations are. they could have vanished and all of a sudden, you look back and
they're there in a vital part of the community. i described you as a community builder. what is your role now. how did you get involved? >> sure. i'm the executive director at cameron house. how i became involved, as you mentioned, i grew up in brooklyn, new york. i lived in seattle for 14 years and coming back to the bay area we decided it's our home. we wanted to come back. i've been looking for a nonprofit where i could sink my teeth into and be part of. and when i read about cameron house does, it spoke to me. i grew up as an immigrant here in the u.s. all the services that cameron house provides, all the wrap around services we could have used in our family. i grew up with domestic violence in the household. both my parents had cancer. my siblings and i could have used the youth leadership programs, and the love and care that is here in cameron house. we didn't find that in new york when we were growing up. so coming here, my mom died when
she was very young. she just had her 44th birthday. i feel like i get to live the life she worked so hard for. for me being part of the cameron house mission speaks to my values and what i love about what we do. so that's what brought me to cameron house. >> we've been hearing a lot about human trafficking lately. we know it's a situation that exists pretty strongly here in the bay area. as with a lot of urban areas. what is the problem and situation now? how do you kind of focus services? what is your perspective now on the current problem? >> sure. the current problem is it's even bigger than it was before. in the sense that it has actually gone underground. it used to be that you would find the girls were hidden in china town. in cameron house we have a tunnel in the basement area that has been blocked off, but we kept it, whenever we give tours we show how when dalafina had
the girls, she would hide them in the basement when people would try to claim the girls. so right now we don't have those tunnels under china town today. however, there are lots of areas outside of downtown area where human trafficking happens, and some of our staff has told me stories about sometimes, you know, homes in the area have been built with trap doors. so people had learned back then, unfortunately, is happening now in other areas where people live rather than commercial district. >> it's great what you do because i can just imagine how harrowing the idea situation th people are in. how about the gala celebration. what is the theme of the celebration? >> the theme this year is homes in elegance. the reason why we have home is basically so many people over the years have felt that cameron
house is a second home. we wanted to honor that. this year we're honoring three individuals and then also community provider. so we're basically expecting over 500 people to come and celebrate how cameron house has been home to so many and continues to be home to the children and the families that we serve today. >> wement to make sure that the public understands you still need support, you need the public support. >> we do. we recently found out there was some city budget cuts that were made and we're recipients of the cut. the support is more important now than ever. >> thank you for being here. >> thank you for having me. >> good luck with your event. >> great. thank you. and the cameron house gala called home, soul, and elegance
who is here to talk about the rich history, its current role serving over 18,000 children and families throughout 30 counties as well as the group's upcoming awards luncheon. laura, welcome. >> thank you. >> let's talk about that history. why don't you tell us in terms of the way it started and how it evolved to the big agency it is now. >> donaldfina cameron recognized that there were children su-- suffering in san francisco, and she took it upon herself to rescue them. she was joined, though, by a lot of chinese women as well, and that grew into the need for a larger orphanage. there was an expansion. about in 1925 into oakland, a home in oakland, and expansion in 1935 the sugar family donated
their summer residence. donaldfina opened a lot home in loss gatos hills. >> despite her individual efforts what also needs to be recognized her ability to mobilize the community. get more people involved. >> yes. >> and get more people involved. that's essentially how you became as big as you are now. >> exactly. what drove her is to save children and end their suffering. yes, she mobilized a great deal of people to do that, and that's what drives our organization today. so our growth and expansion was simply responding to need, and there's a great deal of need out there still. >> who are the people that you're serving? who is sort of the people that you're primarily focussing your services on? >> today we serve all ages from birth to young adults, and we
focus primarily on foster care services, and mental health services. >> is there any kind of cultural resistance you find. we find with a lot of agencies one of the most difficult things is finding the people to help it's getting them to come forward and recognize that they need to ask for help or make themselves known. do you find that or is that less so now? >> of course we do. and the part that is sad about that, if a child had a broken arm or diabetes, we wouldn't hesitate to get them help. when a child is suffering inside their heart or their mind, it still has a lot of stigma attached to it. what we found is when we moved our services out kminto the community, and we serve in about 40 to 50 different schools across the bay area, the children that would not seek help maybe from their parents do seek help at school. so that's how we're helping them, you know, break their
silence and get the help they need. it's been a great growth particularly in communities where there still is too much stigma attached. >> unfortunately the cultural resistance among the older generation by not talking about it, the young people don't feel like maybe -- they feel a little less hesitant to talk about it among friends or out of school. >> yes. >> so when they reach out at school it's a lot easier for them to get the help. and their friends reach out for them as well and teachers. >> such an intimate process being able to talk to somebody and help them like that. how difficult is it when you operate on a statewide level or expand to such a large size? >> well, i can let you know we attract incredible employees across the state. and first and foremost, they're called do this work. when we expand, we make sure we hire the best of the best. train them really well and give them the type of support they need. and so our services are across
the state. >> you keep growing. didn't you merge with another group as well? >> we did. we merged -- we merged with a number of different agencies. one merger we had was in hollywood area holly grove, and we merged with kids are special, which was an addiction prevention service, and then in 2009 we merged with a large foster care agency, as well. and all the mergers were as a result -- and the same drive that donaldfina is alive and well. >> can you tell us about the luncheon. who is being honored and why? >> sure. so the luncheon is on march 4th. it's being held at the fair month. we're honoring three special people. dr. nancy pina, the previous mental health director for santa
clara county. michael and mary ellen fox. and el camino hospital. they're a wonderful support particularly of the crisis services. the theme of the luncheon is focus on the crisis services. we have been providing crisis services across the country for over 20 years, and was recently we opened a stabilization unit in campbell, and we also have a community transition service, and i don't know if you're aware, but there is a high prevalence of children who are experience i experiencing suicidal thoughts and actions. our team responds to that need. they'll be visiting us soon to see this innovative service. we need the community's support to reach every child who is in
that dark moment. the luncheon is going to focus on that. and honoring dr. nancy because of her leadership with crisis services andm s mental health s, and the foxes, and the hospital because they have stepped up and partnered with us for these children. >> that's great. they deserve to be honored. thank you very much for being here. >> thank you very much for your time. the silicon valley award luncheon and the honoring will happen saturday, march 4th starting at 11: 30 a.m. at the regency ballroom in san jose. for more information go to n nbcbayarea.com. up next our community calendar then a look at the upcoming breathtaking work that is being displayed at the pacific orchid expo suggestion. stay us with.
we're still enjoying new year celebrations. today the tet festival in san jose celebrating vietnamese culture to inspire youth, families, and communities starting today at 10:00 a.m. you can still catch it, the festival goes until 9:00 p.m. at evergreen valley high school in san jose. for tickets you can check it out on nbcbayarea.com. another event we have talked about with guests on "asian pacific america." the padayon is going on saturday, february 27th at the village theater at 233 front street in danville. the celebration is being presented by the american center of philippine arts, and the dance company and featuring live music and dance. you can get tickets through nbcbayarea.com. and a program we're involved in growing up asian in america is having its call for entries in
the annual contest. the deadline is march 4th. as we featured on our show last week, the contest is unique platform for young people to creatively explore being asian, asian-american, or pacific islanders. for more details visit nbcb nbcbayarea.com. coming to san francisco as well as on our show the pacific orchid exposition. the beauty and cultural significance of the event up next.
we look forward to talking about this upcoming event. it's an show that people can appreciate on so many levels. it's the pacific orchid exposition at fort mason. with me is tonya, a nonprofit dedicated to fostering interest in the culture and overall appreciation of orchids. thank you very much for being here. >> thank you for having me. >> one of the first things we want to make sure people understand is when they hear orchid it might be an elite
event for flower experts or things like that. you want to make sure that the general public should go and they'll have a good time if they go. >> absolutely. this is an event people come from all over the world. it's one of the largest orchid show in the u.s. and it carries a lot of international vendors. people from asia, from central america, from brazil, from everywhere in europe come to this show every year not only to shop for exotic orchids, but to also learn to meet the enthusiasts about orchids, and to appreciate. >> i'll tell you what, let's look at a few now. we can talk about the history of the event as we look at these orchids and tell us what we're seeing. >> this is a type that can be grown outdoors. lady slipper.
this can be grown outdoor in the bay area. everybody has this in their home. very well long lasting. and so many colors. so many varieties. very easy to grow. they last for months and months. >> are they a delicate flower? >> they are very delicate but very strong. they're very adaptive. . >> these are the things that people will see at the show, obviously. >> absolutely! there are so many colors. >> this is the 64th exposition. >> yeah. >> how did it start off? like a small show that got big because of the interest? >> well, san francisco orchid society now adays is the largest show in the bay area. it's also like a sister's society to many of the smaller south bay and other bay area societies. it started many, many years ago.
64 years ago. smaller than now but has grown over the years. the society has so many experts. there are so many good growers. there are people who have done orchid business from within this society. >> how big is the business side of orchids in the bay area? >> it's quite large, to my knowledge. there are many vendors who have grown locally. there are also people who adapt plants from different places such as hawaii or taiwan. export/import them to the u.s. and grow them here. there are large nurseries in the south bay areas in the monterrey areas as well as san francisco, the city itself, has a couple of big nurseries. >> at lot of asian-americans and pacific islanders involved in those? >> i've seen all kinds of ethnicities. it's not just asian i definitely
have a strong interest in orchids and i recognize them. i also venture to many different species as i grow. i've been growing for 25 years. >> in fact, didn't you -- i heard you had two orchids registered in your name? >> yes, that's true. >> what are those? >> one is the lady slipper that we saw earlier. the one with the pouch in the front. they look like a slipper. a a lady slipper type species. and the hybrid is named after me. it's called tanya lam. it was registered in 2012. it was a hybrid of two species i is. and the other was registered the past november. >> you know you are doing good
when you have orchids named after you. >> thank you very much for being here. >> come to san francisco! >> all right. the 64th annual orchid exposition will be in full bloom from february 26th through the 28th at fort mason center in san francisc for more information on this year's event called a legacy of orchids go to nbcbayarea.com. that's it for our show today. you can get more information on our website. so check us out on facebook and twitter. that's our show. thank you for watching. join us again next week.
good . good morning. trump and clinton on top. the republican riding high. >> let's put this thing away. >> mark rubio going for second. >> now the children of the revolution. >> and emotional jeb bush calls it quit. >> tonight i am suspending my campaign. >> while on the democratic side hillary clinton gets a much needed win in nevada. >> some may have doubted us, b