Volunteer Linda Chau, left, helps students in Helping Link's afterschool program. • Courtesy Photo
Volunteer Linda Chau, left, helps students in Helping Link’s afterschool program. • Courtesy Photo

The following column was written by Helping Link-Một Dấu Nối:

Helping Link-Một Dấu Nối, a non-profit, community based organization, is changing the lives of Vietnamese immigrants in Little Saigon, one person at a time. With the assistance provided, Vietnamese immigrants and refugees are able to find success in their new country, and become engaged members of their new community.

Helping Link-Một Dấu Nối is based in Little Saigon/International District, and is dedicated to empowering and assisting Vietnamese immigrants in their effort to settle into their new country, while maintaining a sense of cultural continuity and pride. The organization offers practical programs for adults as well as the younger generation. For the adult and senior population there are ESL classes, as well as several different computer and technology focused classes. For the youth population there is after-school tutoring available three days a week, and a summer technology program. In addition to the classes Helping Link-Một Dấu Nối provides, they also provide information and referrals to help people get the assistance they need.

Many Vietnamese immigrants and refugees frequently lack the confidence to use English, as well as technology. But after attending classes, they are able to gain not only knowledge, but confidence as well. With their newfound abilities and the courage to use them, Vietnamese immigrants and refugees are able to apply what they’ve learned in the real world, to dramatically improve their lives and well-being.

As a community based organization, we depend on the support of the community to make our services possible. In 2013, Helping Link-Một Dấu Nối volunteers donated 10,200 hours of service to our programs. We currently have 300 amazing community-based volunteers to make sure that their programs not only stay running, but thriving.

Zac Bushmohle discovered Helping Link-Một Dấu Nối when a friend of his painted a mural on their building. At the time, Bushmohle was searching for an organization in his community that needed volunteer IT support, and after learning about the great services provided by Helping Link-Một Dấu Nối. Bushmohle knew he had found his organization. His technical proficiency keeps their computer lab open and their systems running, so that low income families have access to technology and staff to support them in its use.

Seniors take part in Helping Link's Ipad class. • Courtesy Photo
Seniors take part in Helping Link’s Ipad class. • Courtesy Photo

While many of Helping Link-Một Dấu Nối’s programs are designed to help the severely underserved older population of immigrants and refugees, they’ve also seen a need to support the next generation, who face different challenges than their parents and grandparents.

Linda Chau coordinates the after-school tutoring program for Helping Link-Một Dấu Nối. The daughter of Vietnamese immigrants with limited education and English ability, she knows very personally the struggles children of immigrant families face in their new culture. Her own struggles as a child, and the frustration she and her parents faced at their inability to help Chau succeed academically in the same way as her peers, motivated her to get involved with Helping Link-Một Dấu Nối. Now, as a young adult, Chau’s goal is to try and alleviate the challenges children of immigrants face and set them on the path to academic success through tutoring in math, reading, writing, and conversational skills.

During these economically challenging times, Helping Link-Một Dấu Nối has not been immune to the challenges of keeping their doors open to those most in need. While their volunteers help them drastically cut down on costs by generously donating their time and money–there are still very real costs to these essential programs and Helping Link-Một Dấu Nối needs your support more than ever.

It doesn’t take much to empower people and set them on the path to success and on Tuesday, May 6, The Seattle Foundation makes it even easier to make a real difference.

Helping Link-Một Dấu Nối is participating in The Seattle Foundation’s fourth annual GiveBIG event. This one-day, online charitable giving event is the biggest day of giving this year for the greater Seattle community. The Seattle Foundation will add to each donation made between midnight and midnight on Tuesday, May 6, from their stretch pool of funds. Make your donation go further by donating during GiveBIG 2014, just go to www.helpinglink.org/givebig/ to make a big difference.

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