More than 300 Korean Americans attended, started with a rendition and collective singing of the American and Korean Anthems.
Ms. Ann Lee- Brunner and Mr. Ki Cha lead the gala flawlessly in both English and Korean. Mrs. Sunny Joh, the current KCCP Board Chair delivered a thank-you message to all sponsors who supported KCCP and pledged that KCCP will work hard to achieve its visions.
This year Mr. Anthony Gianfarcaro, site engineer received the Outstanding Friend of KCCP Award. Dr. Peter Yi and Mrs. Alice Yi received the Outstanding Member of KCCP Award. Ms. Kyung B. Yoon, keynote speaker, gave an inspiring speech, emphasizing the importance of community to make better society. Gala ended at 9:45p.m. and everyone departed happily with the inspirational speeches, high quality entertainment programs, and abundant gifts.
This year’s Chuseok Gala theme is “Breaking Ground for the Future,” as we are about to launch the ground breaking in near future to construct a multipurpose community center which a dream will be in reality. We continue to raise funds through our capital campaign for the construction fund and it is anticipated that the construction of the community center will be completed by 2017.
Considering a small community through grassroots movement, we have been proud of achieving our initial goal of purchasing 6.4 Acres of land on Meadow Road in West Windsor Township in 2011. Construction planning was started in 2013 and has been in progress with volunteerism and passion.
At the annual Gala, we will share our history, our current activities and our vision for the future. This year, the evening will begin with a cocktail hour at 6:00 p.m. and an authentic Korean dinner will be served at 7:00 p.m., along with great music performance by Mezzo Soprano, Mi Soon Ghim, who was praised as “first rate” singer for her New York City Opera performance by The New York Times.
We are excited to announce that, will be our Keynote Speaker. She is a longtime community leader and advocate for promoting philanthropy in the Asian American community and will inspire KCCP’s mission and vision.
Thank you! It is my honor to be with you on this very special evening celebrating the 8th Annual Chuseok Gala.
“Build to Share”! What a theme for a gathering such as this! In reflection of this phrase, I recalled a time when I was in the hospital waiting for a heart transplant and read a book called, All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten by Robert Fulghum. In other words, “everything I need to know in order to succeed in life, I learned in kindergarten.” Lessons like:
1) Clean up your own mess
2) Flush the toilet
3) Say sorry when you hurt somebody
4) Put things back where you found them
5) Don’t hit people
6) Play fair
7) And SHARE everything.
So, when I started my company 20 years ago, I decided to keep my core values simple. I teach my staff to:
1) Return calls on the same day.
2) Inform all the time; keep clients and staff “in the know.”
3) Go the extra mile.
And the overarching purpose of our existence was framed into this mission statement: we exist to help those in need.
This is our solid foundation. This is how we build to share.
Light the candle…
I light this candle as a visual echo of a verse from Proverbs 31:28, “She sees that her trading is profitable, and her lamp does not go out at night.” I pray that this evening will be profitable both financially and spiritually, so that KCCP can become the shining LIGHT and sharing HANDS of this community.
Now, with a room of this size full of so many Koreans; I’d like to see if you are truly Korean-American and know your heritage!
Let me pose this question:
Why did people begin to fight when grandmother left the room?
(Pause for audience’s answer)
Because, there was no harmony (할머니).
We all strive to be great in many things.We strive to get good grades, get into good schools, land a great job, run a great business and of course, find a beautiful wife or a perfect husband. And we have the vision to build this community center. They are all achievable. They are all easier than this one, very thing: living in HARMONY. Yes, living in harmony with others is one of the most challenging things in life.
To live in HARMONY, we need something that keeps the candlelight burning.
This reminds me of the humor between a boy and a girl. A girl says to a boy she wants to marry him; saying that when they are married, she will take away all his worries, challenges and troubles. And the boys says, “That’s good darling, but I do not have any worries, challenges or troubles.” The girl then replies, “That’s because we are not married yet.”
You may have a perfect partner but living a harmonious life with that person is something else. You may build this community center but sharing it in harmony with the community will be something else.
In the movie Field of Dreams, there goes the infamous quote “If you build it, they will come.” And they did. But, do you know why they came? They came not because they built the field; they came because they built a dream!
The field they built was a place where their dreams were made, born, hoped, casted, and realized.
If we build it, can we share?
If we build it, can we share in harmony with the community?
Someone once asked me, “How do you become successful? How do you make the ‘American Dream’ come true?” Well, I said to him, “Carry 1,000-lbs of steel on your back, and then you will find the way to get there.” And of course, he was puzzled! So, I proceeded with these two stories – one of recent memory and another, a piece of history.
There was a time I overheard two ladies walking towards an escalator. As they approached the escalator, one lady complained saying that it was broken again. The other lady simply replied, “Escalator’s don’t breakdown; they just turn into stairs.”
In 1518, Captain Hernando Cortes, a native of Spain, was appointed as explorer and conqueror to Mexico. At that time, Mexico was under the rule of the mighty Aztec Empire. Captain Cortes sailed from Cuba to a peninsula located on the east coast of Mexico. He only had 11 ships, 500 soldiers, 100 sailors, and only 16 horses. His rule of engagement was simple: to conquer Mexico no matter what, no matter how long!
When they landed in the peninsula, the Captain told his soldiers to burn all their boats. His people were shocked. He said to them, “Burn the boats. Torch the boats.” And he added, “If we go home, we are going home on their boats, the enemy’s boats.” That was their rule of engagement!
For each one of the soldiers and sailors, that was more than carrying 1,000-lbs of steel on their back. They feared for their lives. All smiles and joy left them!
Yet, amazing things began to happen. Captain Cortes and his crew fought really hard and very well. Three years later, they defeated the Aztec Empire and built Mexico City in its place. The 1,000-lbs of steel on their back helped them to survive. It helped them to be creative and clever. They won the war by first becoming friends with the locals, making them their allies. They first learned to live in HARMONY with the locals.
Their boats were burned. Their hearts were deeply saddened. Their escalator was broken. But they turned it all into STAIRS of HOPE, a New Beginning.
The challenges we face today will give birth to a new mission, a new sense of purpose in life that is greater than self.
Just how, do you wonder? Well, I, too, had many hardships and challenges!
For one, I grew up in a leper’s colony in Busan, Korea where my father served as a pastor for 13 years. Growing up in that area, I was ridiculed, mocked, and called names, as though I was a leper myself. The other children even threw rocks at me, to keep me away from them.
Upon coming to the U.S. in 1969, my life seemed normal; that is, other than getting the usual bullies and being called names and told to “go-back-to-where-you-come-from.” After college, I started to work for an engineering and architectural company and moved up in the corporate ladder pretty quickly, becoming a principal at age 29 at one of the largest firms. I thought I was running high. I thought I had made it. I thought my life would be a cruise from this point on. And yet, one day, 22 years ago, while I was driving along the New Jersey Turnpike, going 75 MPH, I passed out. My heart was not supplying enough AIR, oxygen, to my brain.
I was only 31 years old. I went to the hospital that day and was told, “You have a serious problem. Mr. Haahs, your heart is not functioning properly.” Within hours they placed a pacemaker within me to regulate my heartbeat. A few weeks later, they placed a defibrillator in my belly to activate or to calm my irregular heartbeat. Then, it was decided; the doctor came to me and said, “Your heart is no good. If you want to survive, you’ll need a heart transplant.” Upon hearing that, my face turned pale. I felt the earth shake beneath me, the sky crumble down on top of me. I really felt that the sun and moon would no longer shine, as if there was no more AIR for me to breathe in. Instantly, I felt 1,000-lbs of steel pile on top of my back. I felt every single pound of it. It was a weight I could not bear. My escalator was broken. I saw my life being destroyed before me. That night and many nights afterwards, alone in the hospital room, when no one was around, I cried!
I wanted to know how my girls would be taken care of.
I wanted to know if I had any chance of living again.
I wanted to know if God really cared for me.
I wanted to know if there was any purpose left for my life.
My life was broken.
I waited 6 months in the hospital for a donor. During this time I lost just about everything: my salary, bonus, BMW, rental properties. We exceeded our insurance limit of $1M and had a hospital bill for an additional $450,000. My body depended on medicine that cost $1500 a month; I became a beggar looking for leftover medicines. There were even holes in my children’s sneakers – though, they would just shrug their shoulders and smile.
Yes, my life was broken. There was no harmony.
Until, one evening it hit me; a verse from the Bible resounded within me: “For when I am weak, then I am strong.” And I began to draw in my mind the STAIRS springing out of the brokenness.
My heart was broken, but I could hear the echo: “Escalators don’t breakdown; they just turn into stairs.”
I had then decided to turn what is broken into STAIRS of HOPE, transform what is broken into STAIRS of living in HARMONY with people around me.Instead of focusing on the weight of all these burdens, I began to ask what I would do when I get a second chance in life.
One day, I picked up a local newspaper in the hospital. It had an article about a soup kitchen run by a group of local churches and how they had to close their doors due to a lack of funding. I mentioned to my wife that day, “when I leave this place, when I have my heart transplant, I want to live for others before I live for myself: my career, my goals, my money, my success. Now I want to live to help people. I want to live to give like my father did, spending 13 years of his life in a leper’s colony loving and caring for people.” And she agreed! With that, my wife and I decided to start a new company and we wrote down a mission statement: “We exist to help those who are in need.” It means that we not only financially help those who are less fortunate than us, but that we also live in harmony through sacrifice, honesty, and transparency.
In referring to the candlelight…
Do you know what happens when gasoline comes in contact with a spark?
Cover the candle
If you are thinking that we would have an explosion or fire, you are wrong. It takes more than just a candle and a match to start a fire. It takes AIR. Fire can only ignite in the presence of AIR. Without AIR, oxygen, nothing will happen. Most of us here are Korean-Americans. We have a pioneering spirit. We have determination. We are survivors. We have tenacity to overcome any challenges. But to turn the broken escalator into stairs, it takes more. It takes more than just a candle and a match. It requires AIR.We often say that we need to shine. In fact we say that it is time for us to SHINE.
Our motherland, Korea, is shining globally. 40 years ago, they started by making garments and providing labor; South Korea’s economy was built by nurses and miners who went to labor in developing countries and by soldiers who fought in the Vietnam War. They sacrificed. Then, Korean automobiles entered the global market. Samsung and LG are now illuminating the world with technologies. K-pop and Korean dramas are dominating the world stage. Soon, I think we will emerge in fashion and movies. Then, I predict food; Bibimbob will invade every corner of this land, and of course, Kimchi and Galbi are a must.
What about us in the US? We worked hard. We built communities with stores, restaurants and churches. Many of our young people are doing amazing things in this society. Our children need to grow knowing that they can shine; they can create fire; they can turn a broken escalator into STAIRS, living in harmony with others. One day they will realize that good schooling and good grades do not always create success and harmony. It takes something else – it takes AIR. For Korean-Americans to shine here in the US, the air we need is NOT just voices or visibilities that politicians talk about. The air we need is NOT just great scholastic achievement some of our parents talk about.
The air we need is HOPE from brokenness. The air we need is SACRIFICE for harmony’s sake. The air we need is helping those who are in need. The air we need is living with purpose greater than self.
To the leaders of KCCP: You make us proud; keep up the good work. You are the hope. The candlelight is burning brightly today because you are helping us to see the STAIRS of Hope.
To the sponsors of this event and all of you who are here today: Keep the light burning because you are the AIR. You are the air, the oxygen we need to keep the candlelight of hope burning and to turn what is broken into stairs of HOPE.
Today, we also celebrate Chuseok. Admittedly, one of my favorite parts about Chuseok is the 떡! I love Korean 떡! Especially 찐덕찐덕한 떡. And, I always wanted to know why 송편떡 is shaped like a half-moon.
송편이 반달같은 모양을 가진 이유는, 백제의 의자왕이 이런 말을 하였습니다. “백제는 보름달이요, 신라는 반달이요” 라고 하였습니다. 그 후 백제는 신라에게 정복 당하였습니다.
언젠 부터인가 한국에서는 “반달은 희망을 주는 모양”이라하고 반달 모양을 가진 송편을 보름달 아래서 먹으며 미래에 대한 행운과 희망을 품기 시작했다고 합니다.
오늘 우리는 이룩하지 못한꿈과 아픔, 어려운 환경으로 인한 상처를 다 가져와 반달같은 희망의 모양…송편을 드시며 아픔과 어려움을 소망으로 극복하기 원합니다. 성경에 “여호와의 말씀이니라. 너희를 향한 나의 생각을 내가 아나니, 평안이요 재앙이 아니니라. 너희에게 미래와 희망을 주는 것이니라” (예레미아 29:11) 하셨습니다.
The half-moon shaped rice-cake is to remind the people with absolute certainty that a half moon will turn into a full moon; that better days are yet to come. The broken escalators will turn into STAIRS; the Center will be built.
When we live in harmony, when we live to share, this community center will become the beacon of HOPE. And you are the AIR that will keep the HOPE alive.
As so wisely spoken by Mother Teresa, “We can do no great things; only small things with great love.”
The air we need to be able to share is love.
The air we need is to dream.
The air we need is you.
The air we need is to be good neighbors.
(This speech is permitted by author to be read on our website)
After a pleasant cocktail hour with accompaniment by the Korean Youth String Ensemble, the main event, which more than 300 Korean Americans attended, started with a rendition and collective singing of the American and Korean Anthems.
KCCP owes Co-emcees, Ms. Ja Kyung Ahn and Dr. Chris Choi many thanks for leading the gala flawlessly in both English and Korean. Mr. Choong Baik, the current KCCP president, delivered a thank-you message to all sponsors who supported KCCP and pledged that KCCP will work hard to achieve its visions.
This year Mr. Jae Huk Ryu and Jonathan Sohn received the KCCP Certificate of Appreciation. Also there was a presentation by Architect Mr. Jae Hak Chung, featuring KCCP’s near future community Center. Mr. Timothy Haahs, keynote speaker, gave an inspiring speech, emphasizing the importance of sharing to make better society.
The music performance was one of the featured program, which was authentic Korean traditional music and dance by the Asian American Arts Center, which is located in Washington D.C.
The Gala ended at 9:30 p.m. and everyone departed happily with the inspirational speeches, high quality entertainment programs, and abundant gifts.
The Korean Community Center of Greater Princeton (”KCCP”) will hold its 8th annual fundraising Chuseok Gala at the Rider University on September 27 6:00 pm. This year’s Gala theme is “Build to Share,” we are really thrilled to disclose our future site plan and the building at the gala by our civil engineer and architect.
We are also happy to disclose our new programs truly for the benefit of the community in near future. Although many days have been passed since the project initiated, we are proud of accomplishing all these progress with grassroots movements with contribution of Founding Members. Not only sharing our spirits, we will also share our food and culture by providing Korean delicacies from GeumKangSan, a Korean restaurant in New York, along with a traditional Korean music and dance performance by the Asian American Arts Center from Washington, D.C.
Our keynote speaker this year is Mr. Timothy Haahs, President and CEO of Timothy Haahs & Associates, Inc., an engineering and architecture design firm. Mr. Haahs has achieved international prominence and was featured on a KBS Korean TV program as a devoted philanthropist last year. In addition, there will be a sing along, silent auction and raffles.
For more information on how to support and RSVP to this worthwhile event, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. Your support and participation will be greatly appreciated. We look forward to celebrating the Chuseok (Korean Thanksgiving) Gala with you on September 27.
KCCP 2014 Chuseok Gala Committee
무더운 날씨에 가내 다 평안하시기를 바랍니다. 올해도 제8회 추석 맞이 갈라 행사가 오는 9월 27일 (토요일) 오후6시 뉴져지 로렌스빌에 위치한 Rider University에서개최됩니다. 올해는 특히KCCP부지에 건축될 Community Center 기초 공사를 위한 토목 설계 공사 신청이 마무리 단계에와 있으며 최근 건축사를 고용하여 건축 설계 신청을 준비하고 있습니다. 올해에는 “Building to Share ” 라는 주제에 맞춰, 한인커뮤니티 센터건물 건축 준비에 박차를 가할 뿐아니라 장차 그곳에서 진행될 프로그램 준비에도 만전을 기하고 있습니다.
Keynote Speaker로는 필라델피아에서 TimHaahs 건축 회사를 설립, 한인사회는 물론 미국 전역의 건축계에 큰 영향을 끼치고 있는 Timothy Haahs (하형록)씨를 초청하여 현재 한인으로써 미국 주류 사회에 어떻게 기여할 수 있었는지의 경험담과 미래를 향해 나가는 한인 커뮤니티의바람직한 목표들을 생각해 보고자 합니다.
이날 저녁은 국제적으로 알려진 워싱턴 사물놀이팀의 공연이 있게되며 이외에도 추석의 흥을 돋울 싱어롱, Silent Auction, 경품뽑기, 뉴욕 금강산에서 준비하는 맛있는 한국음식의 성찬이 준비 되어 있습니다.
이 멋진 행사를 후원 해주시고 또 예약을 하시는데 대한 정보는 email@example.com로 연락 주시기 바랍니다. 여러분들의 후원과 참여를 손 꼽아 기다리고 있습니다. 9월 27일 추석 행사에 부디 오셔서 축하 해주시기를 바라며 행사에 대해 간단하게 소개 말씀을 드렸습니다. 감사합니다.
The Korean Community Center of Greater Princeton’s 7th annual Choseok Gala was held on September 21, 6:00 p.m. at Rider University. The main event, in which more than 300 Korean Americans attended, started with a rendition and collective singing of the American and Korean Anthems after a pleasant cocktail hour.
KCCP owes Co-emcees, Ms. Ja Kyung Ahn and Dr. Chris Choi many thanks for leading the gala flawlessly in both English and Korean. Mr. Young Lee, the current KCCP president, delivered a thank-you message to all sponsors who supported KCCP and pledged that KCCP will work hard to achieve its visions.
This year, Asiana Air lines was chosen as a KCCP friend award recipient and the KCCP women’s club won the KCCP member award. Dr. Kye Eun Ma, keynote speaker, fully supported our goal to establish the Korean Community Center, insisting that now was the perfect time, given her own experiences leading the KCC in northern New Jersey.
The music program was divided into two parts. One was instrumental music, the other one was voice music. Both programs were representative of the relationship between American and Korean cultures. Many audience members expressed thanks for providing a relevant and significant musical experience.
The Gala ended at 9:30 p.m. and everyone departed happy with the inspirational speeches, high quality entertainment programs, and abundant gifts.
Dear KCCP Friends and Supporters,
The Board of Directors and the Founding Members of the Korean Community Center of Greater Princeton (KCCP) invite you to support the Seventh Annual Chuseok Gala on Saturday, September 21st at the Rider University, Lawrenceville, NJ 08648.
This year’s Chuseok Gala theme is “Building The Future,” as we hope to continue to raise funds through our capital campaign for the construction fund in order to start the ground breaking of KCCP’s community center on the 6.4 acres of land in Princeton that we purchased two years ago. KCCP envisions the community center to become the epicenter to preserve and promote our community’s cultural identity, as well as serve as the base for social networking for future generations of Korean-Americans in the greater Princeton area.
The Chuseok Gala is the mainstay of the KCCP’s fundraising efforts. We hope to raise $120,000 this year, which represents a significant increase from last year. We are very proud and inspired by the grassroots fundraising that has enabled us to purchase the land this past summer and are hopeful that we can do the same fundraising for our construction fund. Your support of the Chuseok Gala is vital in order for the vision of a community center in the greater Princeton area to become a reality for not just for us but also for the future generations of Korean-Americans to come.
Please consider supporting this year’s “Building The Future” Chuseok Gala through corporate sponsorships, advertisements, and/or Gala ticket purchases. For category details and terms, please refer to the attached sign-up sheet.
Thank you very much for your gracious support.
Dr. Ma is the Founder and President of Korean Community Center, Englewood, NJ.
She has served Korean Community Center as a fulltime volunteer for the past 13 years. She had a dream of creating a Korean Community Center similar to the Jewish Community Center she passed by every day where she lives in Tenafly. She founded the nonprofit organization of Friends of Grace Seniors, Inc., now known as the Korean Community Center (KCC) in 2000. The inception of KCC was motivated by a group of seniors who saw an increasing need for immigrants and families to have a place where they can share and learn together and overcome language and cultural barriers. From those humble beginnings KCC now has an annual $1 million budget and is the only broad-based Korean community center in the metropolitan area. The mission of KCC is to promote healthy and independent living for all individuals in the community and integrate the Korean population into the greater community through culture and education, outreach, health and social services, and civic advocacy. The vision of KCC is to provide practical tools and assistance for Korean immigrants to live in US, and to preserve and promote Korean cultural heritage and social identity through self-empowerment and spirit of giving while building bridges to American society. Annually, KCC has about 12,000 individuals utilize its one-stop and multi-services center for all ages from children to older adults in the community.
Dr. Kye-Eun Ma is a board certified internist who came to US in 1971 after graduation from the Medical College of Yonsei University. She retired early in 1997 and served for community senior program as a volunteer. While she was volunteering for senior program, she found a desperate need of retirement housing for Korean elderly immigrants and a Korean Community Center.
She received many awards, Korean Prime Minister Award for community services, Bergen County’s Outstanding Volunteer, Bergen Community College’s Asian Leadership Award, Dae Sang Award from the Korean American Association of Greater New York, The Russ Berrie Award for Making a Difference, and Community Service Award from the Association of Korean American Medical Graduates, etc.
She and her husband Dr. Dong M. Ma reside in Tenafly, NJ and have two daughters, an allergist in New York City, a vice president at Louis Vuitton, and son with Ph.D. in physics serving US Dept. of Energy.
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