Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Angel Island Foundation Honoree Announcements

From Angel Island Immigration Station Foundation:

Saturday, October 1
AIISF Annual Gala
InterContinental San Francisco
888 Howard Street, San Francisco
6 p.m.
Ticket price starts at $200
For more information: www.aiisf.org/
AIISF to Honor Immigrant Heritage Awardees on October 1

AIISF will celebrate its Immigrant Heritage Awards October 1 with our annual fundraising event, "Our American Journeys" at the Hotel Intercontinental in San Francisco. Previously profiled are honorees California Supreme Court Justice Joyce Kennard; Jewish Family and Children's Services; Andrew Ly of Ly Brothers Corporation/Sugar Bowl Bakery. This issue will complete our series, profiling May and Sinclair Louie, businesspersons and philanthropists; and Olympic Gold Medalist and president of the Always Dream Foundation Kristi Yamaguchi.  We will have fabulous live and silent auction prizes and a raffle - for more information on tickets or sponsorships, contact Grant Din at 415-262-4433 or gdin@aiisf.org.

May and Sinclair Louie have been stalwarts of the Chinatown community for many years. Sinclair's father, Louie Fong Hock, was a merchant and had a retail store selling art objects on Grant Avenue in San Francisco Chinatown. He traveled back and forth from China, and brought his nine-year old son Sinclair to stay in 1931. Sinclair returned to China with his dad several years later, but when he returned to the US he had to come as a paper son because children of merchants could only enter the U.S. one time. He was able to get papers for a Louie relative of approximately the same age. Sinclair graduated from Lowell High School and served in the US Army, including at the Battle of the Bulge in Europe. In 1947, Sinclair went to Hong Kong, where he met and married his wife May, and they returned to San Francisco in 1948.

The Louies built and expanded new gift shops, at one time owning seven different stores in Chinatown and employing many local residents. They encountered racial discrimination when they tried to buy a house in the exclusive Sea Cliff neighborhood of San Francisco, persevering so they could live there and living in the same house for over forty years. They have been active philanthropic leaders in Chinatown for many years, providing a crucial lead gift for the Chinatown YMCA, whose programs Sinclair had participated in growing up, and expansion of communications of Chinese for Affirmative Action's civil rights agenda.

While the new generation of TV viewers might know Kristi Yamaguchi as the winner of Season 6 of Dancing with the Stars with her partner Mark Ballas, many Americans remember the thrill of seeing Kristi win a gold medal in figure skating at the 1992 Olympics in Albertville, France. Kristi was born in Hayward and grew up in the Bay Area. She began skating at age six, and since retiring from competitive skating has kept very busy as a renaissance woman - a commentator, children's book author, actress, and philanthropist through her Always Dream Foundation, dedicated to inspiring and embracing the hopes and dreams of children.

Kristi's involvement in the PBS Series Faces of America is of particular note to Angel Island supporters. She was one of many well-known guests including Stephen Colbert, Eva Longoria, and Yo-Yo Ma whose family histories were explored by Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr. and his team. She learned about her grandfather George Doi, a decorated army officer in World War II, and her pioneer grandfather, Tatsuichi Yamaguchi, who originally settled in Hawaii. Kristi told AIISF that the series "helped me identify and feel a stronger connection to my ancestors, especially my paternal grandfather who I've never met. I appreciate every day the fortitude and sacrifice and faith that the generations before me had which ultimately paved the way for the opportunities afforded to me."


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