A Special Recognition to Silver Dragon’s Legacy

By Karen Dea

Bittersweet, extended family, 2 brothers, profound philosophy, community giving, tears of endearment, 5-6 generations, butterfly prawns, 55 years, 7 days a week, 4 restaurants, 54 years old, a special Jury menu, echo boomers, and that’s how the remarkable Silver Dragon restaurant entered it’s fire breathing legacy. In the 1950’s, Wah Quon Chee enjoyed working at the Sun Hung Heung restaurant in San Francisco; and this sparked his entrepreneurial dream of opening his very own Cantonese restaurant. This dream quickly turned into reality in 1956 when Wah and his wife, Jenny, proudly opened the Silver Dragon Restaurant at 710 Webster Street in Oakland, CA. Jenny and her youngest son, Wesley, were both born under the Chinese zodiac sign, the Dragon, thus entered the name, Silver Dragon restaurant! Families enjoyed the tasteful Cantonese comfort food, and Wah created his signature dish, Butterfly Prawns. This was the beginning of long-term, loyal employees and customers developing into an extended family relationship that would bud in an unpredicted horizon.

Oakland Chinatown was only 4 blocks in size, and there were only 4 Chinese restaurant establishments in 1974. Wah’s passion for the restaurant business excitingly grew to envision opening at a larger location. This strong desire was one block away at 835 Webster, and here began Silver Dragon’s iconic figure in the heart of Oakland Chinatown for 38 years. The initial move to a 3-story restaurant brought chaotic challenges that involved adjusting to serve an anticipated 650 guests vs 150 guests at the original restaurant, menu changes, and a learning curve that the two Chee brothers, Wesley and Lester, managed to the success of a daily operation that opened 7 days a week, serving lunch and dinner. [More]

Sherry Hirota and the Asian Health Services

By Doreen Lew

Sherry M. Hirota is the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Asian Health Services (AHS). She was born and raised in Berkeley. Her father was very active within the community, church, and schools. Therefore, giving back to the community was always emphasized in her family. Sherry says, " We all benefit from a thriving, interactive community. It was part of our family values to participate. I see Wa Sung doing so much of that in the community. The Easter Pancake Breakfast is one of my first memories."

Sherry originally went to San Francisco State in 1969 to become a school teacher and was informed that there were no teaching jobs. Also, Asian Studies, Ethnic Studies, and giving back to community were considered important at the time. She left school to move to Los Angeles to work full-time as a community worker. She later returned to the Bay Area where she worked a temporary job that had no health insurance. She went to Asian Health Services and found it to be her ideal place to go for health services. That’s what made her apply for work at Asian Health Services when a job opened up. After about a year, she became the office manager in 1976. Sherry went back to school and graduated with a Health Administration degree from St. Mary’s College. She also learned how to run the organization while on the job. She was promoted to several other positions before becoming Chief Executive Officer (CEO) in 1982. [More]

Family Bridges, Inc.

By Doreen Lew

Family Bridges, Inc. is a non-profit organization founded in 1968 by a group of volunteers. It was originally called the Oakland Chinese Community Council, Inc. They served Chinese immigrants who arrived in the late 1960s. Oakland became home to many of these immigrants who lacked the basic skills to find housing, employment, and health care. This organization provided them within formation in Chinese and also helped with referral services. In 2000, Oakland Chinese Community Council, Inc. changed their name to Family Bridges, Inc.

The services have since diversified beyond the Chinese community. They currently serve about 10,000 clients who are low-to-moderate income in the East Bay. Their mission is to empower the most vulnerable people (the young, seniors, immigrants, people who have health problems, and people with limited English proficiency) to lead self-sufficient, independent lives.

They service people of all ages, backgrounds, and walks of life. The Family Bridges staff and volunteers speak English, Cantonese, Mandarin, Korean, and Vietnamese. This non-profit organization gets funding from private foundations, government agencies, and private individuals. Donations are always welcome. [More]

Asian Community Mental Health Services

Since 1974, Asian Community Mental Health Services (ACMHS) has pioneered mental health approaches that are consumer-need driven and community-based to provide a safety net of services for Asian Pacific Islander (API) immigrants and refugees facing cultural, economic and linguistic barriers as they move toward full recovery and fullest potentials in Alameda and Contra Costa counties. Each year, ACMHS serves over 3,000 API consumers whose ages range from very young children to the elderly. Most families’ incomes are below poverty level. About 80% are on Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and other forms of public benefits. 80% of our consumers reside in Central Alameda County and the City of Oakland.

ACMHS’ experienced professional staff numbering 120 provides wrap-around services tailored specifically to APIs in fourteen languages and dialects: English, Bhutanese, Burmese, Cambodian, Cantonese, Japanese, Korean, Lao, Mandarin, Mien, Nepalese, Tagalog, Toisanese, and Vietnamese. ACMHS’ culturally competent delivery system of specialized services includes Behavioral Health Care Services and Developmental Disabilities Services ACMHS has built alliances among diverse sectors and has working relationships with every major system service providers including the schools, social services, primary health, developmentally disabilities, probation, public housing, economic development, and other community based organizations. Dedication to excellence, personalized care and commitment to helping Asian Pacific Islanders lead healthy, productive lives are the cornerstones upon which ACMHS continues to build its reputation. In the process, ACMHS has gained the confidence of its consumers and the API community and the respect of the care-giving profession. [More]