Globe Local: 10,000 gather in Quincy to celebrate Year of the Golden Pig

By Annika Hom

QUINCY — Against the rhythmic bang of drums, dancers dressed as red, golden, and neon-pink lions hypnotized a massive crowd squished into bleachers at North Quincy High School.

Ambling up to Mayor Thomas Koch and other officials, the lions waited to be fed a Chinese red envelope symbolizing good luck. At the finale, Koch stood in the center of the gym holding a pig, this year’s zodiac sign, while colorful banners spilled out of the lions’ mouths reading, “Happy New Year.”

Every year, Quincy Asian Resources Inc., a nonprofit that provides social and economic resources to Asian residents, holds its Lunar New Year Festival. More than 10,000 people attended this year’s 31st edition on Feb. 10.

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“Especially in this political climate, to have something so special and valued for immigrants — in terms of their identity, in terms of differences, in terms of culture — it’s significant,” said Philip Chong, chief executive officer of the organization.

This is the Year of the Golden Pig, which promises luck, resourcefulness, and unity, according to Chinese legends.

Cartoon depictions of the animal plastered the walls. At arts and craft tables, children made pigs out of egg cartons and paper. A pig mascot posed in pictures with newborn babies.

The high school bustled with back-to-back musical and dance performances, a Super Smash Bros. tournament, carnival games, arts and crafts, food, and vendors.

Sifu Mai Du, the owner of the Wah Lum Kung Fu & Tai Chi Academy, trained the group that performed both the dragon and lion dances. Her students have performed at the Lunar New Year Festival on multiple occasions.

“When you bring the lions and the dragons, the spirit of [those beings] will come and bless this area,” Du said of the tradition. “It’s such an honor, and the students work so hard.”

The gymnasium was transformed into a makeshift stage for all the performances, from the event’s start at noon to its finish at 5 p.m.

Children swayed in green tutus with mischievous grins, high schoolers serenaded the crowd with John Mayer cover songs, and a dance troupe from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology performed Korean pop dance for the first time.

Koch thanked North Quincy High School for hosting the event.

“I know my colleagues would agree that the classroom is a great equalizer, no matter what your background, no matter what you think, no matter what your culture,” the mayor said.

Those who follow a lunar calendar mark time based on the cycles of the moon instead of the sun. Though commonly called Chinese New Year, other countries — such as South Korea and Vietnam — also operate on a lunar calendar. This year’s celebration started on Feb. 5.

Quincy is home to the largest concentration of Asian residents in Massachusetts. Census estimates indicate 29 percent of the city’s approximately 94,000 residents are Asian.

“We have so many people who say, ‘Thank you so much for doing that, it brings back childhood memories,’” Du said. “And kids share in that experience with their grandparents. That’s really special.”

Though the majority of the attendees identified as Asian, large populations of non-Asian residents attended the event, too.

Chevon Johnson-Ilegbodu brought her 14-month-old daughter Madelyn for her first Lunar New Year.

“I brought her to learn more about and celebrate other cultures,” Johnson-Ilegbodu said. “She liked the siu mai [dumplings]. She missed the lion dance, but she liked watching the little girls dancing.”

Chong, of Quincy Asian Resources, said people of all backgrounds gave the annual celebration positive feedback.

Du agreed. “Gradually, we’ll see more and more of this in the mainstream. It’s really nice to see this cultural affirmation,” she said. “This is what it means to be Asian or Chinese or Vietnamese or Korean.”

The event wound down around 5 p.m., but the holiday itself continues through Tuesday, Feb. 19.

“This is symbolic for the diverse community to celebrate and be as one,” Chong said.

Sampan: Rep. Tackey Chan named NAGE 2018 Legislator of the Year

Massachusetts State Representative Tackey Chan (D-Quincy) last week was awarded the National Association of Government Employees’ 2018 “Legislator of the Year” award, presented at the NAGE National Convention in Atlantic City, NJ. Since being elected to the Massachusetts House of Representatives in 2010, Representative Chan has worked closely with NAGE to protect public sector employees and ensure strong labor laws in the Commonwealth.

Massachusetts. state Rep. Tackey Chan (D-Quincy) was awarded the National Association of Government Employees’ 2018 “Legislator of the Year” award, presented at the NAGE National Convention in Atlantic City, New Jersey. The convention took place Sept. 11 to Sept. 14. (From left) NAGE National Vice President Theresa McGoldrick, Rep. Chan, NAGE National President David J. Holway, NAGE National Vice President James Farley. (Image courtesy of Rep. Chan’s Office.)

Massachusetts. state Rep. Tackey Chan (D-Quincy) was awarded the National Association of Government Employees’ 2018 “Legislator of the Year” award, presented at the NAGE National Convention in Atlantic City, New Jersey. The convention took place Sept. 11 to Sept. 14. (From left) NAGE National Vice President Theresa McGoldrick, Rep. Chan, NAGE National President David J. Holway, NAGE National Vice President James Farley. (Image courtesy of Rep. Chan’s Office.)

“It has been an incredible honor to receive this recognition, and I am very proud to stand with and work with NAGE on critical issues that affect working men and women every day. Public employees are what make our government function and I hold great respect for their dedication and commitment to serving the public,” said Representative Tackey Chan.

“In my over 40 years of dealing with the State Legislature, Representative Chan’s commitment to fairness and dignity in the workplace is unmatched. NAGE is proud to work side-by-side with Representative Chan to build a better future for working people. We could choose no better recipient for the 2018 Legislator of the Year Award than Representative Tackey Chan,” said NAGE National President David J. Holway.

Representative Chan has been in public service since graduating from Brandeis University in 1995, starting as an intern in former Representative Michael Bellotti’s office before becoming a staff member to former Senator Michael Morrissey for nearly 12 years. He rose from Legislative Aide to General Counsel in Senator Morrissey’s office, then spent three years working as an Assistant Attorney General under Attorney General Martha Coakley. In 2010, he was elected to represent the 2nd Norfolk District in the Massachusetts House of Representatives and is currently serving his fourth term in office. In the 2017-2018 session, he was appointed Chair of the Joint Committee on Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure which oversees a number of regulatory divisions that impact labor.

NAGE represents more than 110,000 employees across the United States, including more than 22,000 Massachusetts workers in over 60 state agencies. NAGE is headquartered in Quincy, Mass., and is an affiliate of SEIU, the largest union in North America with over 2 million members.

SAMPAN: State program offers free shade trees in sections of Germantown, North Quincy and Wollaston

By Shelly Dein, Director of Energy and Sustainability for the City of Quincy

Home and business owners, in sections of some Quincy neighborhoods, have been getting free shade trees for their property through the Greening the Gateway Cities Program (GGCP), a joint effort of the state’s Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA) and the Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR). To qualify, a property must be located in the area bounded by Sea and Lind Streets and the water in Germantown; or Hancock Street, Billings Street, Cheriton Road/Vassal Street, and Quincy Shore Drive in North Quincy and Wollaston. The areas were chosen for their high population density and their thin existing tree canopy. Trees are being planted to help reduce household heating and cooling energy use by increasing tree canopy cover in urban residential areas, with funding from the Department of Energy Resources (DOER).

Quincy residents have received free shade trees through the Greening the Gateway Cities Program. Quincy Asian Resources Inc. CEO Philip Chong (right) planted trees with a volunteer and a Department of Conservation and Recreation team member. (Image courtesy of the City of Quincy.)

Quincy residents have received free shade trees through the Greening the Gateway Cities Program. Quincy Asian Resources Inc. CEO Philip Chong (right) planted trees with a volunteer and a Department of Conservation and Recreation team member. (Image courtesy of the City of Quincy.)

According to Peter Tam, program director of Quincy Asian Resources, Inc. (QARI), which is doing local outreach for GGCP under the state’s contract, roughly 800 trees—one third of the GGCP’s goal for Quincy–have already been planted on 50 private properties and several Quincy Housing Authority sites.

Tam encourages residents to sign up for the program. Shade trees, he explains, make an attractive addition to a property, “especially during hot summers like this past one, when trees help cool your house and save energy. And, by buffering winds, they offer protection during storms. Economically speaking, they make a lot of sense because they can also increase your property’s value.”

By saving energy and removing carbon dioxide and other pollutants from the air, trees also help combat climate change and respiratory ailments such as lung cancer and asthma, says David Reich, board chair of Quincy Climate Action Network, which supports the program.

“The Greening the Gateway Cities Program has allowed communities like Quincy to experience the benefits of a healthier, more vibrant urban tree canopy, while allowing the Commonwealth to reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” said DCR Commissioner Leo Roy. “Connecting residents with the nature around them promotes environmental stewardship and outdoor recreation, and I look forward to seeing more trees planted in the Massachusetts’ Gateway Cities.”

Property owners who sign up for free shade trees, by calling 617-626-1570, will be contacted by the DCR. Then a DCR forester will do a site inspection, make recommendations, and with the owner’s permission, arrange for appropriate trees to be planted.

“Overall,” says Ahron Lerman, Urban Forester at the DCR, “we have available over 80 different varieties of trees from which to choose. They’re not always available every season – so on some of the less common trees, it’s really first come, first served. Some of the commonly available trees we plant include pin oaks, American elms, and lindens, while some of the less commonly available trees we like to plant are pagoda trees, bald cypress, and Kentucky coffee trees. We have a tree for every place.”

Tree planting is done in the Fall and the Spring. The whole process, from initial contact to planted trees, has been taking about a week to ten days, according to Tam. Owners must commit to watering the trees for their first two years. After that, tree roots are generally deep and well established, although trees will still benefit from watering during drought conditions.

While the owner must sign off before a property can get the trees, renters can apply directly to QARI, which will help them contact their landlord, says Tam.

To sign up for the program, contact DCR at 617-626-1570, or for more information QARI at 617- 472-2200.

SAMPAN: Quincy Asian Resources, Inc. receives $10,000 targeted grant to advance women

Quincy, MA, September 5, 2018 – Quincy Asian Resources, Inc. (QARI), a non-profit that provides services to the Asian population in Boston and surrounding South Shore areas, today announced it has received a $10,000 Targeted Grant from Eastern Bank, America’s oldest and largest mutual bank. The grant will support empowerment of Asian females in the Youth ServiceCorps, a youth engagement program that engages over 300 Quincy students to be leaders by developing and executing service learning projects in the Quincy community.

SSYMCA, QARI and the American Beverage Foundation Team Up to Combat Childhood Obesity

Childhood Obesity is a growing problem in the United States. More than one third of children and teenagers ages two to 19 are obese or overweight, and that rate has tripled in the past 30 years. Childhood Obesity can have a harmful effect on the body in several ways, putting children at high risk to develop cardiovascular disease, diabetes, sleep apnea, asthma, joint problems, heartburn, and social and psychological problems. 

Obesity is directly connected to a critical social issue affecting our communities: high rates of chronic disease. To remedy this serious issue, The South Shore YMCA and Quincy Asian Resources, Inc. have teamed up to deliver a new, nationally vetted childhood obesity prevention program known as "Healthy Weight &Your Child" in Chinese languages for youths in Quincy and its neighboring communities beginning this fall. The program will be funded by a $25,000 grant received from the American Beverage Foundation for a Healthy America.

Shown in the picture are Philip Chong, Executive Director, Quincy Asian Resources, Inc.; Stephen Boksanski, Executive Director, Massachusetts Beverage Association; State Representative Tackey Chan, (2nd Norfolk); Katelyn Szafir, Director of Medical Wellness, South Shore YMCA; Paul Gorman, President & CEO, South Shore YMCA

Shown in the picture are Philip Chong, Executive Director, Quincy Asian Resources, Inc.; Stephen Boksanski, Executive Director, Massachusetts Beverage Association; State Representative Tackey Chan, (2nd Norfolk); Katelyn Szafir, Director of Medical Wellness, South Shore YMCA; Paul Gorman, President & CEO, South Shore YMCA

"We are proud to have been selected by the American Beverage Foundation for a Healthy America for this generous grant," said Paul Gorman, President and CEO of the South Shore YMCA. "With their support, and alongside our partners at QARI, we will be able to reach more families across Quincy and its neighboring communities in an effort to educate children and their families on positive changes and effective steps that can be taken in the fight against childhood obesity."

The program, which offers a platform to make healthy lifestyle changes, includes both educational and physical aspects in order to share a variety of learnings that participants can implemented in their day-to-day lives. 

 "The Massachusetts Beverage Association is proud to partner with the American Beverage Foundation for a Healthy America, the South Shore YMCA, and Quincy Asian Resource Institute to help promote healthy lifestyle lessons to our young people," said Steve Boksanski, Partner, Shanley Fleming and Associates.  "The Germantown Neighborhood Center is a vibrant and thriving community organization that is doing amazing work and an absolutely perfect candidate for this type of grant that is designed to help children learn and remember good nutritional and physical fitness habits while having fun."

With this grant, the SSYMCA and QARI will enroll and engage 90 to 100 youths in the program, potentially reaching just as many families.

 "Offering programs like Healthy Weight & Your Child in languages other than English shows that the South Shore YMCA truly cares about the minority and Asian communities," said Philip Chong,CEO, Quincy Asian Resources, Inc. "This grant will increase access to unique programming and opportunities and will also allow us to emphasize the importance of health and wellbeing by providing these teachings to different generations including youths and their parents and families. It's a very exciting opportunity, and we're looking forward to strengthening our pre-existing partnership with the SSYMCA through this program." 

Through Healthy Weight & Your Child, children from 7 to 13 years of age carrying excess weight, greater or equal to 95th BMI (body mass index) percentile, will participate in nutrition and exercise programs with the clearance of their health care providers, with parents encouraged to attend sessions with their children. The program aims to reduce childhood obesity while creating a healthier future for our children by teaching families the importance of healthy eating and exercise. 

"Childhood obesity prevention remains a critical issue in our community, especially among Asian Americans who are at higher risk of certain health issues - such as diabetes - at lower BMI levels than the average population," said State Representative Tackey Chan. "I am thrilled that the South Shore YMCA and Quincy Asian Resources, Inc. are partnering together to encourage Chinese youth in Quincy to lead healthier lives, with the generous help of the American Beverage Foundation. Healthy eating and an active lifestyle are essential for our and our children's long-term wellbeing and I applaud these organizations' dedication to making healthier choices a more accessible and equitable reality for every family in our community."

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About the South Shore YMCA

The South Shore YMCAis a charity serving the communities of Quincy, Randolph, Holbrook, Weymouth, Braintree, Milton, Hingham, Hull, Cohasset, Scituate, Norwell, Hanover and beyond. Financial Assistance is a Y community benefit available to all families in need, applicable to all Y programs and services. To learn more about the South Shore YMCA, visit www.ssymca.org.

About the American Beverage Foundation for a Healthy America

The American Beverage Foundation for a Healthy America seeks to make a significant contribution to the health of local communities by providing grants to support charitable programs at community organizations that work to advance both the physical health of their local citizens and the environmental health of their communities. To learn more, visit http://www.beveragefoundation.org/

About QARI

Founded in 2001, QARI is the go-to center for Asian residents in Quincy. QARI's mission is tofoster and improve the social, cultural, economic and civic lives of Asian Americans and theirfamilies to benefit Quincy and its neighboring communities. Through collaborations andpartnerships, we provide culturally competent services including adult education programs,youth development, and cultural events as well as information and referrals to public and othercommunity organizations. To learn more, visit https://quincyasianresources.org/.

Sampan: Quincy celebrates 31st August Moon Festival with gourmet food and cultural performances

Quincy August Moon Festival took place on August 19 on Coddington Street at Quincy Center, co-hosted by Quincy Asian Resources, Inc. (QARI) and the City of Quincy. As the city’s signature event for August, about 20,000 people enjoyed live entertainment, gourmet food, a free petting zoo and a beer garden.

The event kicked off with dragon and lion dance performance by members of the Wah Lum Kung Fu & Tai Chi Academy, followed by welcoming remarks from elected officials.

“The August Moon Festival has become one of the premier events in the City of Quincy,” said Mayor Thomas Koch. “We are grateful to have organizations like QARI that make differences every day, especially for newcomers.”

QARI founder Tackey Chan now serves as a House Representative in the Statehouse. He recalled how the August Moon Festival celebration started small in the beginning.

“I remember when it started in a parking lot and Mayor Koch was the head of the Parks Department, so he got the tables, tents and chairs for me when I needed them,” Rep. Chan said. “Now I have organized about 10 of them. It is amazing to see the growth and contribution that the City has made.”

Boston Magazine: Photos from the 31st Annual Quincy August Moon Festival

Outside of Quincy High School on Sunday, drums and cymbals beat rhythmically to the lunging of the graceful lion dancers. Performers shimmied and undulated in colorful, ornate lion costumes, begging for their traditional treats of cabbage and tangerines, which they scooped into their maws and then flung to the audience.

Onlookers cheered and clapped for the dancers as the smoky scent of roasting chicken and salty-sweet kettle corn wafted from nearby food vendors. In the back lot, families pushed strollers through the festival’s kids zone, past rows of bouncy houses and pony rides—stopping here and there to pat a piglet, slurp up some milk tea, or browse through the dried seafood vendors with their jars of crispy brown abalone.

The Quincy August Moon Festival, named the 2018 Best of Boston winner for Best Street Festival, is made possible by the nonprofit group Quincy Asian Resources, which seeks to improve the lives of people in Quincy’s Asian American community. This weekend, bellies were full and smiles were wide as attendees watched live Tai Chi demonstrations, clapped along to the Taiko drumming group Shin Daiko, and interacted with a variety of community sponsors.