World / Reporter's Journal

Faith in people makes great things happen

By Chang Jun in San Francisco ( Updated: 2016-05-03 15:06

As the Chinese saying goes: a single spark can start a prairie fire. The collective effort and wisdom of determined souls fueled by an unshakeable faith in a mission can also bring about change.

A good example is We Are Together, a fundraiser aimed at heightening public awareness of and creating a more accommodating atmosphere for special needs children and their families.

Scheduled for Friday, the event will feature performances by neurotypical children and their underprivileged peers. It will also collect donations to finance the on-going construction of the Dream Center Project at the South Bay site of Friends of Children with Special Needs (FCSN), a nonprofit established in 1996 dedicated to advocating for a more favorable world for the special-needs population.

Faith in people makes great things happen

According to Anna Wang, founder of FCSN, the new center will bring long anticipated programs to the South Bay community, including job training, employment opportunities, an FCSN store and Behavior Day Programs for adults with behavior challenges under the influence of autism, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and other conditions.

"Today with the rising costs of labor and materials, we are facing fiscal challenges," said Wang.

Asian Americans from the local community shared Wang's concern. In March, they staged a fundraiser to serve multiple causes - to educate the community on special needs children and spur public enthusiasm for charitable giving.

Sympathy and mercy only from outsiders won't draw families with special needs children out of the shadows and their taxing sorrow, but compassion, empathy and concrete deeds will, said Ping Luo, one of the organizers of the fundraiser and founder of Able2Shine, a non-profit in the Bay Area with the mission of helping young immigrants better assimilate into American society.

"I don't think parents of special needs kids need pity and they don't appreciate comments and remarks such as ‘How pitiful your child or your family is'," said Luo. "Through many years of struggle, they want something positive and resilient."

Sharing this viewpoint, Luo linked up with Jenny Huang, director of Silicon Valley Youth Orchestra who has supervised several community-wide performances and always has a heart for the special needs children; Meng Wang, a software engineer, dancer and mother of two; and Jojo Xu, director of Shaolin Shaolin Martial Arts in Cupertino to produce We Are Together.

"Starting from scratch, we designed a flyer, wrote a theme song and launched a publicity campaign," said Luo.

Counting volunteers from all walks of life, the three organizers were able to enlist six singers from the Enco Music Club to record the theme song.

"I can't recall any past events of this kind ever having a theme song," said Wang, adding that the singers and recording studio donated their time.

Guangyu Xu, one of the singers, said he was touched by the lyrics, which were written by Wang. "The main message we want to convey to the public is we are together - dream your dream and love your love," he said. "We are together!"

Luo will join a group of mothers and their children to perform a group dance on stage Friday, a move that she calls "challenging my comfort zone."

Not having much dance practice or training, most of the mothers might appear clumsy or awkward, said Luo. "But I can tell how hard they are pushing themselves to take part in the show," she said. "They do this only because they care for the special needs children and their families."

To their credit, the more than 400 tickets for the fundraiser were sold out within two days. "Again, I cannot recall any other event as well received as ours," said Wang.

Luo is optimistic about future success in charity activities of a similar nature in the Asian-American community.

"People are looking up to us, they are inspired by our brave, talented special needs children and their families," she said. "When pioneers start the journey, the love story will continue - I believe."

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