More than 300 people gathered Saturday at the Edmonds Waterfront Center to celebrate the official launch of the Edmonds-based Asian Service Center (ASC).
ASC’s vision and mission stress the importance of service to those in need: “We believe all members of our community have the potential to flourish and achieve success in the United States, contributing to the betterment of society – by enabling and empowering underserved communities by breaking barriers and building bridges.”
The idea for ASC came after co-founders Robert Ha, Crystal Xiao and Will Chen saw that although many organizations serving the Asian population existed in King County, there wasn’t one in Snohomish County. That’s even though, according to the U.S. Census, Snohomish County is 13% Asian.
The program began with Cathy Baylor, from the Confederated Salish and Kootenia Tribes, sharing a Land Acknowledgement — a formal statement regarding an event taking place on land originally inhabited by indigenous peoples.
“I hope that people will take the time to find out who we really are and work to get past the stereotypes,” Baylor said.
A favorite at Edmonds and Seattle events, Master David Leong from NW Kung Fu and Fitness — and an ASC board member — energized attendees by introducing the Lion Dance. The performance featured students of all ages, adhering to the organization’s philosophy of hard work, honesty and respect for others.
Chen, an Edmonds City Councilmember, and David Chan, a South County Fire Commissioner who serves as ASC board chair, thanked those in attendance as well as event sponsors for their support.
“When I came to this country 28 years ago, I only dreamed that something like today could happen – and now it has,” Chen said.
ASC serves all community members regardless of ethnicity, and Chen went on to say that the organization is committed to — and welcomes all — community members because their services are universal.
Founded on the belief that everyone can succeed regardless of their background in society, ASC has four major program areas: health care access, family support, senior care and youth development.
“Today we embark on a journey of empowerment, unity and shared dreams,” ASC Executive Director Robert Ha, said. He added that ASC is a testament to the firm belief in the power of community, where breaking barriers and building bridges can create pathways for success.
The keynote speaker was Edmonds College President Dr. Amit Singh, who came to the U.S. in 1987 as a college student. He shared his story of how hard work can pay big rewards.
In 1987, India and the U.S. had different grading systems and Singh related that he never saw high grades in India. But after studying hard and getting a 98% on a U.S. college test, Singh said, “I realized that the secret is to study hard, and to work hard.”
He ended his speech with a quote from the late U.S. Sen. Robert Kennedy that spoke to the shared vision of ACS’s purpose: “Some men see things as they are and say why. I dream of things that never were and say why not.”
The event concluded with performances by Peitong Qo, playing the guzheng musical instrument, and the Korean dance group Morning Star.
Sponsors and partners for the event included Styles Law, David Chan, Sunny Sun, Quail Park of Lynnwood, First Financial Northwest Bank, Fogo De Chao, Edmonds Waterfront Center, Verdant, Edmonds College, Northern Seattle Grace Church, Washington State Department of Health, Edmonds Police Department, South County Fire, Edmonds Food Bank, Shared Spaces Foundation, The Heron’s Nest Community Education, Edmonds Chamber of Commerce and Homage.
To donate to the Asian Service Center or to learn more, visit www.AsianServiceCenterWA.org.
— Story and photos by Misha Carter