January Community Service pt. II: SF Blanket Project

On Sunday, January 25, 2015, Crystal, Cindy, and I volunteered to help pass out blankets to the homeless in San Francisco.  The project was spearheaded by our very own MVNCI Advisor, Jessica Do, who is committed to completing service projects like this every year.  This year, she started a donation drive and raised enough money to purchase ~150 blankets for the homeless!  This project marks her second year of giving back to the less fortunate; the year prior, she raised money to pass out sleeping bags.  Jessica’s friends Eric, Khoi, Christine, Cong, and Triet also joined in to help out that day!  Upon seeing the gargantuan piles of blankets for the first time, it seemed as though we would have a long day ahead of us.  We helped pack all the blankets into 2 cars and set off on our way to Glide Church, located in the Tenderloin district of San Francisco.

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Glide Church prepares free meals 3 times a day on 364 days of the year and serves up to 2,560 people daily.  We arrived to pass out blankets to those standing in line waiting for lunch to be served.  Passing out all the blankets took less time than I had initially anticipated since they were highly sought after; people were so grateful to receive them.  Completing this project left me with the feeling of only having wished that we had more blankets to pass out since not everyone was able to get one.  We were very glad to have the opportunity to help Jessica carry out her inspiring project, and to personally see how something as simple as a blanket can mean so much to someone who doesn’t have much.  We are definitely looking forward to supporting Jessica’s next project!

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Photos c/o Jessica Do
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January Community Service: Loaves & Fishes Family Kitchen

On Saturday morning, January 24, 2015, Cindy and I had the pleasure of volunteering at the Loaves & Fishes Family Kitchen, located at The Lodge in Morgan Hill.  The Lodge is an apartment community dedicated to helping senior citizens lead independent lives.  It is one of the dining room locations that the Loaves & Fishes organization services.  Their mission is to serve meals to low-income families and seniors across the Santa Clara county.

We arrived on Saturday morning to help out during the breakfast service and were greeted by the two lead cooks, Albert and Ethan, as well as another volunteer, Johnny.  Breakfast is self-service (like buffet style) at the facility since it has been found to be the most efficient way for guests to get food, so most of the volunteer work took place in the kitchen!  We were first tasked with bringing breakfast items and utensils out to set-up in the dining area.  As the guests helped themselves to breakfast, we assisted Albert and Ethan with prepping lunch.  On the lunch menu for later that day was salad and chicken noodle soup.  We helped with washing and chopping romaine lettuce, slicing tomatoes, and shredding and dicing grilled chicken.  For someone like myself who doesn’t cook regularly, I had an enjoyable time exercising my novice knife skills!  As breakfast time was finishing up, we went out in the dining area to help bus tables, push in chairs, and bring used tableware inside to be washed.  It was a fun and eventful morning, and we got to meet some very vibrant people!  For more information about the Loaves & Fishes organization and volunteer opportunities, please click here.

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Photos c/o Suzann Muy
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MVNCI Inter-Pageant Picnic

On Saturday, September 27, 2014, MVNCI hosted our first ever Inter-pageant picnic at Almaden Lake Park – Peppertree in San Jose. It was an opportunity for NorCal pageants to get together and socialize, outside of only seeing each other at pageant events. Luckily, Cindy brought her bright pink canopy to set-up so that guests will be able to easily locate us in the park, and it gave us additional shade as well. Representatives from Miss & Mrs Vietnam USA and Miss Asian Global were in attendance, as well as friends of friends, and even one of our emcees during Pageant, Trami, was able to make it out that day! We had an enjoyable time catching up with each other and meeting new people as we BBQ’ed and ate delicious food. It was a beautiful day out, only made better by glimpses of the scenic lake and gaggles of geese strolling nearby. We had so much fun chatting that we unfortunately didn’t get around to playing any games that we had planned… but at least we will readily have supplies at hand to play these games at another event someday! Thanks to everyone who came, and we hope to host more events like this in the near future!!

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Photos c/o Tony Pham of 1.9.7.5 Photography

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2014 AT&T Autumn Moon Festival

It’s that time of year again for moon cake!  On Saturday, September 6, 2014, MVNCI was invited by the Miss Asian Global (MAG) organization to attend the 24th Annual AT&T Autumn Moon Festival in Chinatown San Francisco.  The festival transforms Grant Avenue into a street filled with lively entertainments such as arts & crafts, cultural exhibits, authentic food, and children’s activities.  It was originally held in 1991 to bring in more business to shops in Chinatown, and has since been held every year thereafter.

To start off the festivities, a parade was held which included a line of civic officials, beauty queens and princesses, cultural performers, and lion dancers, all led by San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee.  It was our first time participating in a parade for a community-wide event!  We were given paper lanterns to hold as we walked down Grant Avenue smiling and waving at onlookers.  The parade ended on the erected main stage where the festival was formally introduced to the crowd of people and several key people gave short speeches.  During this time, giant confetti cannons were passed around for those standing on the stage to set off during the ribbon cutting, which officially kick-started the festival!  All of the beauty queens and princesses had the opportunity to introduce ourselves and wish everyone a happy moon festival.

Afterwards, the pageant royalties were led on another short parade of our own.  We happily stopped to take pictures here and there upon request.  After we were treated to a lovely lunch with the MAG court, we made our way back to the stage where we introduced ourselves again to the afternoon crowd.  It was thrilling to know that we were apparently spotted on the local evening news later that night!  We would like to extend our gratitude to MAG for the invitation and for taking care of us so well throughout our time there!!

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Photos c/o Jessica Do

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August Community Service: Neighborhood Harvest Food Pantry

On Saturday morning, August 23, 2014, Christina, Mandy, Cindy, and I volunteered at the Neighborhood Harvest Food Pantry in San Francisco, located in the Inner Richmond district.  The event is hosted by the St. John’s Presbyterian Church every Saturday morning and it provides free groceries to neighborhood families/individuals in need.  They serve about 280 low-income families weekly, which constitutes about a total of 800 family members!  Upon arrival, we were all assigned stations to hand out food at among the line of different stations.  Christina and I were assigned to pears, Mandy to small cartons of orange juice, and Cindy to bags of rice.  Christina and I had an entertaining time observing the sizes of pears as they ranged from as big as our faces to itty-bitty-sized!  Other items being passed out included bulks of carrots, apples, and bread.  Once the line of guests were let in, we were kept busy distributing the items.

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Most of the guests were seniors and not fluent in English, but it was evident from their smiles, words, and actions that they were grateful for the items they received, which serve as their supplemental groceries to sustain their meals for the week.  It was challenging to simultaneously greet guests, distribute quickly to keep the line moving efficiently, as well as ensure that we were passing out fair portions to all based on the ever-changing estimation of the amount of people that were expected to show up that morning.  The collective event goal was to have everything distributed by the time the last guest left, which all stations all managed to successfully do!  Afterwards, we all helped with putting away the tables and tarps that were set out for the event.  The event is made possible every week through the help of volunteers.  For more information about the Neighborhood Harvest Food Pantry and volunteer opportunities, please click here.

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