Facing Change

by Rev. Norman Fong

October 7, 2019

norman fong

It is so hard to deal with “change” in our lives. Last week I wrote about the Central Subway change in their completion date. I can’t believe we have to deal with construction delays for two more years. We need the city to do a lot more to adapt to that change. I also see the need for more Chinatown leaders who can get things done in a positive way. I really miss some of the old-timers who loved Chinatown and who I felt so close to and learned so much from like Mayor Ed Lee, Rose Pak, Rev. Gordie Lam, May Louie, Burt Chung, Enid Ng, Phil Choy, Rolland Lowe, Isabel Huie, Mary Lem, Bao Yan Chan… Leaders of Chinatown that helped to build up our community to change for the better! Change can be SCARY, but I want to share with you all my favorite prayer on facing change. It’s called the Serenity Prayer, which reads:

“God, grant me the serenity
To accept the things I cannot change,
Courage to change the things that I can,
And the wisdom to know the difference.”

rose pak mayor ed lee

rev gordie lam
Rev. Gordie Lam

enid lim
Enid Lim

For me, I think it is so hard to let go of the past or face new changes in life. It’s hard to let go of things you may have fought for decades and to see new changes come in. It’s hard to accept that there are some things we cannot change – like the passing away of my parents and all the community leaders that have gone… I also believe we need the courage to change the things that we can and continue to advocate for the changes we need for the community. This prayer reminds me and all who understand … that we need wisdom to KNOW when we have to move on and when we need to try new ways to make the changes we want.

Change can be as simple as me getting new glasses so I can finally SEE BETTER AGAIN Ha! Ha! You won’t believe it, but I kept wearing my old glasses for years… that was stupid on my part. Or change can be something like building new leadership for Chinatown from creating Youth Programs or supporting monthly town hall meetings like Super Sunday and building up the “grassroots” leadership of Chinatown. By the way, I am so proud of the powerful leadership of the Community Tenants Association (CTA). They have committed themselves to advocating for more affordable housing and especially for our seniors and SRO families. They are working hard for the Proposition A affordable housing bond. They already know that it takes courage and time to get things done. We CAN BE THE CHANGE but we also need to VOTE FOR THE CHANGE. I truly love the CTA leadership we have had for over 32 years.

cta community tenants association sf

cta rev norman fong

It was a very tough time for the Ping Yuen Residents going through so much construction changes as Chinatown CDC chose to rebuild the old structures. Change is Not easy but it was the Ping Yuen Residents Improvement Association (PYRIA) that successfully advocated for Chinatown CDC to make new changes to the Ping Yuen. We are almost done! PYRIA has been super-leaders for the Pings for over 50 years! I hope the next generation of resident leaders will be unselfish and caring enough to build up community in the newly renovated buildings.

As I look back at our Chinatown CDC history, (our 42 Anniversary celebration is on October 11 – sold out), I’m thinking about those old-timers who have gone on to heaven that I mentioned above. Mayor Lee, Rose Pak, May Louie, Phil Choy, Rolland Low… you all should know about already… but quiet humble Chinatown leaders were more behind the scenes like Rev. Gordie Lam, Chinatown CDC’s Director of Property Management (who brought me to Chinatown CDC to work with Gordon Chin) and Enid Lim who worked tirelessly for Chinatown TRIP, Alleyway improvements and cleanups, etc.… I really miss them so much because they were my mentors at Cameron House and the Presbyterian Church too. We need more community leaders who love Chinatown more than their own ambitions. WE NEED MORE LEADERS WITH WISDOM WHO CAN ACCEPT THE THINGS WE CANNOT CHANGE & WITH COURAGE, CHANGE WHAT WE CAN. Personally, as I am now a senior citizen, I have accepted the fact that my body is getting old and my knees are really bad… but also, I need to support the next generation who will be carrying on the work to improve Chinatown for the better.

Originally published in Sing Tao Daily on October 6, 2019

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