15 Great Asian
No matter how well-intentioned or energetic, few of us have the resources to take on a cause single-handedly. Is the only alternative apathy? Not according to the activists who have committed their full-time energies to establish organizations that channel good impulses into effective action that help those who need it most.
There are hundreds of worthwhile Asian American causes. We present here ten non-profit organizations that have harnessed the contributions of thousands of concerned Asian Americans to make life better for hundreds of thousands more. We encourage you to find one or two that move you and make a real difference by pitching in.
1. New York Asian Women's Center (NYAWC)
Restoring Lives of Abused Women
Most of us will never feel shamed away from seeking basic protection because of cultural gaps and lingual barriers. NYAWC recognizes the social, cultural and economical challenges that immigrant women struggle against, and provides accessible and practical help for those in need.
Every year, NYAWC receives 3,000 calls to its hotline, assisting over 400 battered women and children. With a staggering one-third of the women reporting an increase in their income, and a low 8% of women returning to their batterers, NYAWC not only addresses immediate concerns, but opens doors to new lives.
Starting as a small hotline available for only a few hours a week, NYAWC gained widespread support and grew into a multilingual hotline which now includes 15 different Asian languages and dialects, available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
In 1988, NYAWC hired its first full-time staff and created a safety shelter for battered women and children, addressing the limited options most battered women face economically. Counseling for battered children and parenting skills services also provide emotional aid and support.
Over the years NYAWC has received many rewards for its achievements, including the President's Volunteer Action Award given in 1991 by President Bush, and the End Domestic Violence Award given in 2002 by Governor George Pataki.
NYAWC continues to expand its reach beyond domestic abuse. In 2005, it launched Project Free, an initiative to end human trafficking and provide services for victims of modern-day slavery.
NYAWC was founded in 1982 as the first domestic violence non-profit organization on the East Coast to serve the Asian communities. Raising public awareness about domestic violence and actively taking steps to empower women, NYAWC acts as a safety net for all women, Asian or Caucasian, immigrant or native-born. For more information on how to help go to http://nyawc.org.
2. Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF)
Fighting Suffering Caused by Racial Discrimination
What Asian American hasn't felt the sting of discriminatory treatment or seen the oppressive conditions that mar the lives of the most disadvantaged members of our group? The AALDEF has made its reputation by crusading against precisely those evils.
Its first big victory came in the early 90s when it persuaded New Jersey to stiffen hate-crime penalities. Since then AALDEF has provided legal aid to hundreds of Asian American victims, including South Asians who, after 9/11, became targets for looking "Middle Eastern".
The AALDEF has been a zealous watchdog for the rights of immigrants, low-income tenants and Asian American voters. It won a landmark ruling from the New York Court of Appeals requiring consideration under state environmental laws of the impact of developments on low-income tenants and small businesses.
In 1992 AALDEF secured Chinese-language ballots in New York City elections, allowing more than 54,000 Chinese American voters to participate. AALDEF has also been involved in the fight against sweat shops in Asia and in securing redress for the 120,000 Japanese Americans unjustly interned in during World War II.
AALDEF's staff of ten, including six attorneys, serves more than 10,000 Asian Americans each year through legal counseling and community education programs -- a ratio of 1,666 clients per attorney.
AALDEF is supported wholly by contributions from individuals, foundations and corporations from around the world. Eighty-seven cents of each donated dollar goes directly to legal programs and services, a high ratio among charitable organizations.
AALDEF was founded in 1974 by a group of lawyers, law students and community activitists to provide legal aid to Asian Americans in the New York metropolitan area. Since then it has expanded its reach throughout the U.S. It strives to use the law as a tool to achieve social and economic justice. PAGE 2