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Asian American Ambassadors, Houston

During this very difficult year, people have been finding ways to help others. It could be something simple like unpacking an elderly neighbor’s groceries for her or something unexpected like chartering a plane to fly COVID-19 test specimens to where they can quickly get test results!

Asian American Ambassadors may be based in Houston, but we carry our values with us where ever we may go. Our members have been helping others in ways that have sometimes surprised ourselves!

Rina Liou was running late for a business appointment and needed supplies to bring with her. She dashed into a local store, picked up the items and went to pay. Only then did she realize she’d forgotten her wallet! She was running out of time, having trouble paying by smartphone and becoming more and more flustered by the second! The lovely cashier, who Rina found out later had only $20 in the bank, looked up at God, and prayed her finances would work out as she paid Rina’s $12 bill. 

Rina was overwhelmed with gratitude. This clerk, Rita, had never met her before and didn’t know if Rina would come back to re-pay her but out of sheer kindness did something wonderful for another human being. Rina made her appointment and came back to re-pay Rita, plus a little extra for her kindness. 

Rina then posted their photo and what had happened on the Nextdoor app, unaware that this simple “Thank you” would ignite an amazing reaction!

Before she knew it, Rita’s customers stepped up and did something kind for her! Click on the link to watch what happened next to Rina and Rita.

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Cami Lenett left Houston to make her home on the West Coast. She is a dedicated frontline worker, managing a California hematology clinic.

As we begin the winter flu season with the added danger of the third wave of rising COVID-19 infections, healthcare workers are in a risky position as they continue to maintain some semblance of normalcy in caring for patients.

Cami’s patients have severely compromised immune systems, making them especially vulnerable to COVID and other infections. Cami’s staff ensures, through numerous safety protocols, that patients continue receiving timely treatments in a safe environment, while also taking measures to keep themselves safe.

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Cookie leads an online dance class.

Cookie Joe of Cookie Joe’s Dancin’ School has had an interesting career. Besides being nationally recognized for her teaching skills, Cookie has trained Olympic hopefuls and taught special needs students and homeless children from Houston’s Star of Hope Mission. She is also a well-known choreographer for bodybuilders, at one time being a bodybuilder herself!

Dressed up for class.
The dance studio becomes a blood donation site during a blood drive!

Since the pandemic hit, she has made her “new normal” routine work! She conducts online classes from her living room and continues to reach out to her students with snacks & chats and birthday drive-bys with the popular Ms. Cookie doll. 

“It’s important to stretch.”
A sibling slips into class!
Cookie sits down to have a snack with students online.

The faith-based school has also been utilized as a blood drive location and looks for ways to help the community. Hopefully, the pandemic will ease and the annual “God Bless Texas Festival” to raise funds for non-profits and individuals in need will continue next year. 

Ms. Cookie on a drive-by.
Cookie & friends wish a student blessings on her birthday!
Cookie chats with parents.

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Virginia Chang Kiraly

Texas transplant, Virginia Chang Kiraly, has made a good life in California with her husband and sons. Her fire safety concerns for school children in the community led to her wanting to do more. In 2011, Kiraly became a director on the Menlo Park Fire Protection District Board – making her the second female member in its 100+ year history. She went on to become a member of the San Mateo County Harbor Board of Commissioners, becoming the first Asian-American woman to serve on both boards! 

As a San Mateo County Harbor Board Commissioner, Kiraly and other members are charged with the construction, maintenance and administration of harbor facilities and the surrounding marine environs. The Board operates two marinas and the South San Francisco ferry terminal, besides handling water rescues, shoreline and marine-life protection and clean-water initiatives along the county’s coasts, among other responsibilities. 

The Fire District serves both the highest and the lowest income neighborhoods in San Mateo County. Last year, they opened new fire stations and now use drones to help in firefighting, but this year’s combined wildfires and COVID-19 issues have put a heavy burden on resources for all local communities, no matter their age, race, inequality or access to healthcare. Kiraly is also a member of the Fire District’s CERT team and a licensed ham radio operator and encourages others to find ways to improve public safety in all our communities’ neighborhoods.

Virginia recently ran two campaigns at the same time to maintain her positions on both boards and she succeeded!

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With Soo Leong Liu, it started with picking up a mask-making kit at Joann’s Fabrics to sew masks at home to drop off at the store to be donated to others in need. She went on to sew masks for family. Then, a surgical nurse on Nextdoor asked if someone was making masks. Soo connected with her and made masks a little bigger so they could cover N95 masks and help them last longer as N95s were scarce and hospitals were limiting them. 

Soo asked if the healthcare worker needed anything else. Yes, surgical caps! Now, let us say that Soo is not an accomplished seamstress. But, “Where there’s a will, there’s a way!” So, Soo made more masks with matching caps from a modified online pattern.

These are some of the stories our members had during these trying times. We hope you feel inspired to do something, anything, to better the situation around you. If we all step out to help others, we all step up to a stronger, more resilient world.

By SooSooSees

Married, with children; Christian; I ♥ writing; photography; travel; art. Twitter: @SooSooSees; Instagram: @soosoosees; YouTube: SooSoo_Sees

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