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September 11, 2009
by J Coco Chang, account manager
UPDATE: Here is a clip of an interview that took place on New York’s WBAI about the report “The Helpers Need Help.”
On Thursday I accompanied Pro-Media client the Human Services Council to a studio interview at FOX 5 in New York City. The segment will run on the “Street Talk” segment on Saturday, Sept. 12 during the 6 a.m. FOX 5’s Good Day program. It will also be available online here.
It was great to be back behind the scenes of a news program (something I am familiar with as a former TV producer). I was so glad to be there to provide support and help prepare Michael Stoller, executive director of the Human Services Council, as well as Gary Carter and Sarah Muller, both with Little Sisters of Assumption Family Health Services for the interview.
In the segment, they are discussing the severe challenges human service providers across New York City face in light of the economic downturn. A survey report that was sponsored by the Human Services Council and Baruch’s College School of Public Affairs has already gotten coverage in the New York Times, City Limits, WNYC, WBAI-FM, the Chronicle of Philanthropy, New York Nonprofit Press, Queens Courier and several more.
I captured some behind the scenes video and photos (available on our Flickr page). Here are the pictures:
Here is the final preparation for the news segment.
Here is the actual interview. The audio is not great, so make sure to watch the program Saturday morning!
September 4, 2009
by J. CoCo Chang, account manager
Next week on September 9th, I am going to be attending a forum called “The Helpers Need Help.” It’s a forum that’s going to discuss how nonprofits and social service organizations in NYC are dealing with the economic recession. For more information on the forum, click here.
Having spoken to the sponsors of the forum – Human Services Council and Baruch College, who conducted an extensive survey and is putting out a report in connection with the forum – my understanding is the situation is dire. Many nonprofits in NYC are in very serious trouble of having critical funding taken away from them.
Recent reports from The New York Times and City Limits provide some sense of how serious a situation this is for many nonprofits throughout the city, but I think what we will learn at the forum is that the results are actually quite scary. With many of my friends unemployed and in need of assistance in some form or another by a human service organization, I fear that any one of these organizations helping my friends could be the one of hundreds that are experiencing major cuts to their funding. I am also hearing stories of how workers at some of these organizations are living in homeless shelters because there’s not enough money to pay them a base salary.
Getting to know many of these human service organizations through my work at Pro-Media, what I have come to admire about many social service workers is that they really do have a passion for their jobs, even at the expense of their own quality of life. This has inspired me to want to give more of my time towards volunteering with as many different social service organizations as possible, which is why I joined New York Cares.
New York Cares was founded by a group of friends who wanted to take action against the serious social issues facing New York City. Their goal was to meet pressing community needs by mobilizing caring New Yorkers in volunteer service. And what’s great about them is that they offer flexible volunteer projects with lots of organizations either after work or on the weekends.
I encourage everyone reading my blog to get involved with an organization you care about. Doing so does not have to take over your life, if that’s what is stopping you. And if you are not familiar with any organization to volunteer with, come to the forum on September 9th and get to know one. I can assure you many will be there and would welcome a helping hand.
August 15, 2009
by J. CoCo Chang, account manager
According to a New York Times report this week, it is now estimated that the death toll from typhoon Morakot that hit Taiwan, the Philippines and China could now be as high as 500.
Since I have family and friends in that region, who could be part of the thousands in need of help from having lost their loved ones and homes, I would like to take a moment to say “thank you” to the staff and volunteers of the following organizations and share some information about their work in bringing relief to the East Asia region from this natural disaster.
The local staff and volunteers of the Red Cross in China, Taiwan and the Philippines are helping families by initiating rescue missions and distributing relief supplies on a massive scale. With tremendous disaster response experience and capacity in the Red Cross at the national and local level in the affected countries, there has not been an appeal to the international Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement for outside assistance. The American Red Cross remains in daily communication with its Red Cross partners in Asia and stands ready to assist if needed. Since there has not been an international appeal, at this time the American Red Cross can not accept funds designated to the typhoon.
Dharma Drum Mountain Social Welfare, a Buddhist charity foundation, assisted with recovery by quickly initiating emergency relief programs. These programs are focusing its help by offering typhoon sufferers temporary relief measures, such as drinking water, sleeping bags and lunch boxes on a daily basis.
Since typhoon Morakot hit Taiwan, the Tzu Chi Foundation, another Buddhist charity organization, recruited over 17,000 Tzu Chi volunteers to participate in the relief efforts. The volunteers prepared and delivered more than 200,000 hot meals and 6,000 relief kits (containing towel, toothbrush, toothpaste, shampoo, soap and food). Tzu Chi will continue to provide these daily necessities as long as they are needed. Additionally, Tzu Chi continues to provide emergency cash to the affected families.
The Eden Social Welfare Foundation in Taiwan, which also lost two centers from typhoon Morakot, is sending staff and volunteers to help at three temp shelters they have set up with local governments, churches and temples.
And finally, the Child Welfare League Foundation in Taiwan will put into immediate effect a plan to help children who lost their parents to typhoon Morakot. At a temple in Kaohsiung County that is serving as a makeshift shelter for flood victims, representatves from the foundation brought stationaries and toys to comfort the children.
To help any of these charities with their relief efforts, please contact the organizations directly.
August 7, 2009
by J. CoCo Chang, account manager
This week, I was happy to hear about the release of two American journalists – Laura Ling and Euna Lee –from North Korea’s prison. I am glad their ordeal is over, but I have to admit I was a little surprised to learn of President Bill Clinton’s level of personal involvement in helping to negotiate their release, especially when there are so many journalists around the world who are presently suffering the same fate.
While watching the week’s continued coverage of the heroic efforts of the former President and the emotional reunions of the journalists with their families, I kept thinking “any day now” as I waited for news coverage devoted to shedding some much-needed light on the human rights and hunger situation in North Korea, especially as it connected to what the journalists went through.
Disappointingly, the news reports and analysis never came, and the articles I did find in The Guardian and The University of Alabama’s paper The Crimson White, made only brief mentions of what North Koreans suffer in their own country.
Even more shocking – while not quite surprising – was listening to the interview with Lisa Ling on CNN’s American Morning on Thursday, August 7, in which she spoke about her sister and how she had been treated humanely in North Korea. In the interview, Ling also said her sister developed somewhat of a kinship with the guards who were watching over her and that she was fed three times a day. She made little mention of the conditions under which North Koreans live everyday, how their human rights are all but nonexistent and how 8.7 million people are suffering from starvation. I don’t doubt that the two journalists were probably treated better than most prisoners, or even citizens in North Korea, but for Ling to only state that North Korea faces some economic challenges is truly an understatement for what is really happening in the country.
I am not disappointed with the Ling family for not upholding journalistic integrity as they are going through an emotional time. I am, however, disappointed with how the U.S. news media has covered this issue from very limited points of interest: politics, Americans being saved and nuclear weapons.
Here’s a video report I think is worth watching called “North Korea: Did You Know?” that does a better job than what is currently in the media in helping to show the reality of North Korea’s situation.
To find out more about hunger in North Korea, please go to the United Nations’ World Food Programme site.
July 24, 2009
by J. CoCo Chang, account manager
This week, I was incredibly pleased to see the release of the first public study of the U.S Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency’s home raid operations, finding that immigration agents have engaged in widespread constitutional violations during such operations. The study was conducted by Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law, Immigration Justice Law Clinic in response to the vital need of indigent immigrants today, who are not able to secure quality legal representation while facing deportation.
On July 22, 2009, The New York Times, ran an article about the study – reporting that ICE representatives defended the raids by saying they were focusing on dangerous criminals.
As I read defense statements made by the government justifying why they conduct these raids in such an undignified and borderline brutal manner, I feel compelled to share my family’s own immigration violation experience that has pretty much left us scarred for life, not to mention fearful of our own government.
In November 2007, my father was detained by immigration officers in his home, of which he lived for over 16 years. At 5:30 in the morning, three huge ICE officers came to pick up my 65-year old, 5’4”, 145-pound father. No warrant was ever shown to him, but they did inform him that he was being detained by order of ICE under Homeland Security. That morning, they literally took him away in his pajamas and only left him time to get identification and nothing else.
For the next three months, they locked him in three deportation centers across the country – Pennsylvania, Texas and New Mexico – which are basically jail facilities for immigrants. Many of these facilities are shared facilities with convicted criminals, which made my father’s treatment in these facilities no different than those convicted of their crimes.
I found it outrageous how difficult they made it for my family to communicate with my father. My family was never informed in advance of my father’s moves to the three deportation centers and it drove my family to tears everytime it happened as the way we would find out he was moved was when we would try to visit him, and would be told that he was not there anymore. Officers would not answer any other questions or give any additional information about where he was moved to or how we could find out where he was.
Thank goodness for the lawyers we secured, Bretz and Coven, who were able to get him out on bail by the third month. They were also vital in helping advise us on where ICE was probably going to send him next, but I admit they were not cheap.
When my father was granted bail, I made sure to be there to pick him up from the deportation center in Texas. What I didn’t expect was to wait almost 15 hours. It was almost midnight when they finally released him and actually seeing how they released him was the most heart-breaking moment I have ever experienced. Officers literally dropped him off, out of a van and onto a curbside with nothing else but the shirt he came in with, which was still his pajamas, and shoes with no shoe laces.
What was even more infuriating was that my father told me that as he was being processed for release, immigration officers called him racial names and when he questioned why they were doing so, an officer threatened to put him back inside the detention center.
For the next year and four months, my father had to go to several immigration hearings where his entire life was to be put on trial for the immigration judge to decide whether he should be deported or not. In June 2009, my father and family, won our victory by having the judge grant my father permission to stay and dropping all deportation charges against him. What was even more surprising was that my father’s trial did not even last 10 minutes in court, which says to me that my father’s immigration case was not even a serious one. Yet the rest of his life is now scarred by an immigration process that took him more than a year to finish.
My father is actually one of the lucky ones. He had family support, good lawyers and he had lived in this country long enough to know when injustice was being thrust upon him. While inside the detention centers, my father said he saw entire families inside, who had no one visiting them and some couldn’t even speak English to ask questions. Additionally, a friend my father made, while inside the detention center, even passed away before he was able to have his day in court, and simply from not getting proper medical care. He left behind a wife and a new-born child.
As an American citizen, I am outraged by this treatment of immigrants and those, like my father, who really can’t be categorized as an immigrant after residing in the U.S. for almost 40 years. I understand the need to protect America’s borders, but since when is humanity optional to those who are not citizens.
I hope this new study is able to shed some light into a particular aspect of the immigration issue that often gets lost during debates. But even more important, I hope that immigrants, old and new, start to realize the critical need for them to get their own injustice stories out, as a vital next step in helping to reform the immigration laws in a direction that is right and proper for all immigrants.
July 17, 2009
by J. CoCo Chang, Account Manager
The last couple of months have been full of doctor’s appointments for me – dental, physical, blood tests, radiology, then back to dental and then more tests and more screenings. Through it all, what I find even funnier is that I’m actually pretty healthy and as I book appointment after appointment, what I conclude for myself is: THANK GOODNESS I HAVE HEALTH INSURANCE because this is getting pretty expensive.
For being pretty healthy, it amazes me how many doctors I have to see. It also makes me wonder about people who are actually sick and I can’t even imagine what their healthcare routine must be like, or how much their medical bill must be. Then I wonder about the people who don’t even have health insurance – like almost everyone in my family – and I wonder how they even afford to be sick, literally?
Reforming healthcare in the U.S. has been a hot topic in the news lately. I read a recent report by the US Department of Health and Human Services, “Health Disparities: A Case for Closing the Gap”, which basically says minorities and low-income Americans are the ones that are most likely to develop fatal diseases and the ones who are most likely NOT to have health insurance or access to proper healthcare.
As I think about that, something about that fact just seems wrong. Then I think about myself and how is it I’ve had access to healthcare easily throughout my life and then I realize it’s because it’s always been through the companies I work for. It makes sense then that if you don’t have a job and don’t have money, what are the options? For many minorities and low-income Americans – NONE.
As I formulate my own opinion about the healthcare reform debate happening in Congress, I settle on these simple thoughts:
1. Access to proper healthcare needs to be open to everybody.
2. Having a job or making a certain amount of money should not be the deciding factor for whether a person can afford proper healthcare.
3. Healthcare should not be treated as a business, but a public service.
Yes, these thoughts are simple, but the debate surrounding them on Capitol Hill is really about money – who can afford it and who can’t – and what do we do about the people who can’t, which is 18 percent of the population or nearly 46 million Americans, according to the National Coalition on Health Care.
The other funny thing is that currently many minorities and low-income Americans actually can get access to public healthcare, so what’s the problem? The problem is applying for them is a frustrating, confusing and often times a difficult and off-putting process, which is why many don’t bother, even though they really should. This, to me, has to change as well. There is no point in the government spending all this money providing it and making it a difficult process for people to access it. It just doesn’t make sense.
Are there solutions? Of course! Innovative organizations like The Center to Promote HealthCare Access are trying to voice their solutions, which is through technology. One-e-App is one software system that attempts to streamline the enrollment process for many people within low wealth communities, making it easier and less frustrating for them to access public healthcare and other human services. Unfortunately, this system has been implemented in only a handful of communities, most of which are in California. And their reason for not branching out further, again, is because of cost.
I hope in my lifetime to be able to see a fair and efficient public healthcare system that I could rely on in case I should ever need access to it before 65. But if not, then you can be sure the day I lose my job and can’t find another that can give me health insurance, is the day I choose to move to Canada.