The Korean American Family Service Center (KAFSC), in partnership with the NYPD Queens Community Outreach Unit, hosted its first annual Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) Family Fun Day at Astoria Park on Saturday, May 15, to celebrate the month of May, which is also known as Family Month for Koreans, as well as AAPI Heritage Month.
More than 10 community partners and hundreds of people from the Asian American community participated in the event at Astoria Park that featured musical entertainment by Jay Miners, Wind Meets West, as well as a drum and dance performance by the New York Pilgrim Missionary Dance. Food trucks such as The Maine Lobster, Carvel Ice Cream, Frank’s Souvlaki and Yum Dum, were also on site serving delicious meals to the community.
“During the Month of May in Korea we celebrate family — May 5 is our Children’s Day and May 8 is Parents’ Day. There are a lot of celebrations around families in Korea,” Jeehae Fischer, executive director of KAFSC, told QNS. “In the U.S., during AAPI Heritage Month, we wanted to celebrate and give our community members the opportunity to learn about Asian American culture and for Asian Americans to participate in the fun day to celebrate their own heritage.”
This year’s celebration of AAPI Heritage Month is especially significant following the rise in growing anti-Asian sentiment throughout the country that has ignited a movement (#StopAsianHate), as Asians are experiencing a wave of unprovoked violent attacks in relation to the coronavirus.
While it has been a difficult year for the Asian community grappling with a virus and anti-Asian discrimination, Fischer said the event was meaningful just seeing everyone enjoy themselves during a critical time.
As the executive director of KAFSC, a nonprofit organization based in Flushing committed to preventing and ending domestic violence, sexual assault and relationship abuse, Fischer had to also cater to the community providing COVID-19 information and calls regarding anti-Asian attacks.
“We are designated by the Office of Victim Services to be able to assist our community members with any crimes — meaning that we can fill out an application on behalf of our clients of crimes to be compensated by loss of job due to the crime,” Fischer said.
KAFSC offers a broad range of programs and services for women, men, children and youth. The center’s services are provided by bilingual professional counselors, and without charge to the client. All client information is kept strictly confidential and their privacy is protected.
However, according to Fischer, because of language access and cultural barriers, many Asian American community members aren’t aware of the resources available to them that are provided by the city and state.
“We’ve been bridging that gap more than ever,” Fischer said.
At the height of the pandemic last year, according to Fischer, the center received an influx of phone calls on their one-of-a-kind, 24-hour bilingual hotline regarding social emotional support for seniors, and survivors of domestic violence who were trapped at home with their abuser. Additionally, the center was also providing self-defense training sessions in light of attacks against Asians, while also disseminating information on how to report a crime.
“If they can’t report it because of the language capacity, we will be able to do it for them,” Fischer said.
Overall, Fischer acknowledged the elected officials — such as Borough President Donovan Richards and Senator John Liu — who have been outspoken about the issue and have encouraged everyone to stand up against Asian hate.
“Both Senator Liu and Queens Borough President Donovan Richards have been really vocal about supporting one another, and we are inclusive with other groups of people and partnering with them going to different rallies as well,” Fischer said. “We appreciate their support.”