Tag Archives: Southeast Asian Coalition of Central Massachusetts

Joey parked here … The Holiday Season: a Giving Season!

ICT_Yum Yums-edited
Chef Joey

By Chef Joey

For many folks the holidays mean a time of happiness, Santa pictures, gatherings and delicious meals. …

Chef Joey donates his time and talent every Christmas – he donates and cooks all the turkeys and makes vast amounts of turkey soup and stuffing for his friend Boa’s nonprofit, the Southeast Asian Coalition. photos: Boa Newgate

… I know people who start their gift shopping as early as July! (Maybe a personal attempt to throw the spending numbers off that retailers thrive by!) Many organizations have fundraisers and the Salvation Army hand bells can be heard at just about every market and store and, of course, who says no to Toys for Tots?

I have a foster daughter this season and was invited to “Family Appreciation” day hosted by the Department of Children and Families. It was held at the DCU center (I almost typed Centrum!), and much to my surprise there were hundreds of families there! All of us had a common link: We were all foster parents. Some with one child and I met a family of four! What was amazing is the fact that everyone was there to enjoy themselves. It was a veritable “League of Nations”! There were children and parents of all ethnicities, mixed families, and when I say families, they all were together and smiling.

Santa and Mrs. Claus were there too, and there were so many families they called them up by tables of 10. And there were more than 50 tables! – just to give you an idea.

We were table 38 so we got to watch what was planned. Hats with antlers made by tracing your child’s hand and then cut out and taped to a band that fits across the forehead. Then there were the gingerbread men decorating stations. Face painting is always a hit with kids and the ice cream buffet was a guarantee that everyone would stay awake – never mind the 20 foot table of various candies!

As we got called up to meet Santa, we talked about where the children came from, how long we had them, etc. and that’s when I looked at the stage and saw a young man, say no more than 9 or 10, attempting to climb the two steps to see Santa himself, refusing help, as he had arm crutches in both arms and two very twisted legs. He was so determined to get there without assistance, you could see the effort in his face. When he reached the top he smiled. Made his way to Santa and sat on his knee, face beaming as he recited his list of whishes. Then he smiled for the camera, got up and walked across to the finish line per se where he was handed a wrapped toy, which he handed to his foster mom, who was not the same ethnicity, but had a parental smile that melted me. She gave he foster son a hug and helped him down back to the floor level and he was telling her all about it, as if she had not seen. This was a classic case of “To love and be loved is the greatest gift of all!”

After a few snacks and comradery, we left and were greeted with a table of books, crayons, coloring pencils and other complementary items that were gleefully distributed to the attendees, all passed out by volunteers. Today everyone was making a difference.

The Southeast Asian Coalition celebrates!

Meanwhile, on the other side of town, Mr. Boa D Newgate, now a Culture Broker for the Southeast Asian Coalition recently wrapped up his Thanksgiving party and was busy getting ready for Worcester First Night, where his team of Lion Dancers once again performed.



Boa’s story is simple: He was a refugee with his parents and sibling. They made it to the United States and fortunately to Worcester. Boa saw inner-city kids who were not amounting to much, so he decided to show them boxing and other activities to exercise. He made arrangements with the YMCA and had regular sessions, starting with just a few kids that grew and grew. As the expansion started so did the activities and the need for transportation.


He found a way to procure a school bus, and though tenacious work and donations, registered and insured it. He then involved at the Southeast Asian Coalition.


Go, Boa, go!!

Everyone loves and is so proud of Boa!

From their website their story is the following: The Southeast Asian Coalition of Central Massachusetts, Inc. (SEAC) was founded in 1999 and established as a non-profit agency in 2001 to address the lack of culturally and linguistically appropriate support services for Southeast Asian Immigrants in Central Massachusetts, which includes Laotians, Cambodians, and Vietnamese.

SEAC’s mission is to assist Southeast Asians in Central Massachusetts successfully integrate into mainstream society while maintaining their unique cultural identity. SEAC has developed a strong reputation both among members of our cultural community and with our partners in the community at large for being a trusted organization of first resort. Their mission is focused on education and job training.

The first Thanksgiving holiday party I attended was sparse, perhaps 25 to 30 kids. I made a turkey and all the fixings – this is back in 2009. In 2010 there were more kids and I was there as well, but now there was karate, judo, and other things being taught and the space was growing.



Last year there were very young kids that were learning the Lion Dance; they had a demonstration and explained how every move tells a story.

Those heads are heavy! Each eye can go left, right, up or down and blink!

So put the movements to a beating drum, and the magic of the dancing dragon comes alive!

Like Hula dancers with their hands and hips, all these Polynesian and Asian rituals are secretly threaded. Of course, Richard and I supplied the turkeys and again this year knowing there was to be a crowd, we made several turkeys, stuffing and a vast amount of turkey soup.

Boa was promoted to his new position, and having volunteered for years donating his own time and money. His new title is Cultural Broker, and he is working with people with mental and other physical disorders by linking and bridging communities. His focus is to transition folks to better life styles and connect to them to resources in the community so that each person feels completely normal and free of any labels due to their condition. He is a mighty man and a kindred spirit! Everyone he has helped has a smile on their face when you mention his name. The best part about Boa: he tries to make sure everyone is appeased and juggles to make it happen. And it does!







Here is a quick easy recipe for stuffing – you are going to love it!

All you need is:

2 large onions

1 bunch of celery




Bell’s seasoning tops it off.

It is a delicious and healthy and gluten free!

First, chop the onions and sautee in olive oil

Add the celery and stir until soft.

Add ½ cup raisins and 1 cup fresh cranberries and stir in 2 tablespoons of Bells seasoning.

In the meantime, cook 3 cups of oatmeal.

Add to the onion mix and stir.

Salt and pepper to taste and there you have it!😄

Tonight! Be there!

8th Annual Moon Festival 2015
The Southeast Asian Coalition (SEAC) Youth Effect members would like to invite you to our Moon Festival …
TODAY! Friday, September 25

4:30 PM to 7:30 PM

Boys & Girls Club of Worcester

65 Tainter St.
This is an event for families and their children, which is open to the entire community. 

Free Admission. 

There will be free refreshments, community resource tables, face painting, free lanterns for children 13 and under and free moon cakes for all attendants to taste.
You can expect to enjoy cultural performances from our Worcester Youth Nian Dance (WYND) group, martial arts demonstrations and the traditional lantern parade
by the WYND Lions to end the Festival.
The celebration of the Moon Festival, which traditionally falls on a full moon, symbolizes the completion of the harvest season. Originally, the Moon Festival came about as a way for parents to make up for lost time with their children after the harvest. The harvesting season is usually done by September (August in the Lunar calendar).

The Southeast Asian Coalition of Central Massachusetts serves and celebrates in Greater Worcester!

By Anh Vu Sawyer

In 1998, a group of Cambodian, Laotian, and Vietnamese youth decided to reach out to their community by forming the United States Cross-Cultural Center, Inc. In 2001, this initial effort became the Southeast Asian Coalition of Central Massachusetts (SEAC), Inc. SEAC is located in the Denholm building, at 484 Main Street, Suite 400, directly across from City Hall.

Throughout their history, SEAC has been seeking opportunities to contribute and be more engaged in the larger diverse community of Worcester. Since its inception, SEAC has been tackling the challenges of mobilizing a community with many unique needs. SEAC was the first — and continues to be the only — organization in Worcester and Central Massachusetts operated and administered by Southeast Asians who understand the culture, the conditions, and the background of the Southeast Asian community.

SEAC’s mission is to help Southeast Asians in Central Massachusetts become productive and successful citizens while maintaining their unique cultural identity, and to promote and encourage civic engagement. SEAC achieves this mission by:

• Providing assistance in the areas of education and job training, as well as emotional, social and cultural support to enable Southeast Asians to succeed;
• Linking the Southeast Asian community to other communities and resources;
• Supporting and promoting the cultural heritage of the Southeast Asians in the Greater Worcester community;
• Facilitating a healthy integration of Southeast Asian Youth in the public school system at all levels of learning.

SEAC accomplishes these goals through assisting Asian immigrants, refugees and long-term residents, who have severe language and cultural barriers, to meet their basic needs and offering them other crucial services to help them integrate and thrive. SEAC offers English As A Second Language classes and translation and interpretation services to make sure the Asian community members obtain their daily social service needs. SEAC also assists their clients through programs in education, civic engagement, access to Healthcare, and after school and youth leadership development programs which serve children from ages 12 to 19.

SEAC takes pride in providing a safe and welcoming environment for Southeast Asians in Worcester County. The majority of SEAC’s clients are from Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia. As most of SEAC’s clients come from war-torn countries with traumatic backgrounds, they often feel displaced, lonely and fearful for their family’s well being and future. The Coalition strives to provide services to help meet their basic needs and organize events that also help alleviate the daily stress compounded by the severe lack of English language skills. SEAC’s intergenerational events provide opportunities for elders and youth to interact and enjoy doing things together, such as the much-loved and much-participated quarterly birthday parties for elders, who are served by the youth. SEAC’s Youth Effect also performed their Lion Dance during the Lunar New Year at the Worcester Senior Centers. SEAC’s staff have created in their office an area similar to a large family room, with a library stocked materials in languages appropriate for their clients, and activity areas for children, youth and adults, seating for conversation and games, and a kitchen where, most weeks, SEAC’s elders gather to cook and share stories.

In recent months, SEAC has become a meeting place for other new refugee groups from Bhutan, Burma and Nepal.

There are more than 12,000 Asians in the City of Worcester and more than 30,000 in Greater Worcester. Even though the Southeast Asian community has been a part of Greater Worcester for over 30 years, and in spite of being a hard working and resourceful people with many who have become store owners, factory workers, nurses, teachers, etc., the SE Asians in Worcester remain the most isolated population, according to the Worcester Research Bureau report.

In the past 10 years, SEAC has supported and promoted cultural awareness by bringing Asia to Worcester’s doorstep with its annual Asian Festival and Moon Festival. This year, SEAC’s Asian Festival will be held on Sunday, June 29, 2014 from 12:00 Noon to 6:00 PM at the Italian-American Cultural Center, 28 Mulberry Street Worcester, MA 01605. SEAC’s annual Asian Festival is a free to the public event with performers, arts and crafts and foods from more than 12 national groups of refugees and immigrants, and has drawn a crowd of thousands of attendees and families from the greater community to celebrate Worcester’s great diversity.

Over the past decade, SEAC has become a trusted organization in the community. SE Asian community members have turned to SEAC for support with a broad range of issues: from citizenship to access to health care, as well as a broad variety of basic needs issues such as housing and employment. As a result, SEAC has built a strong network of relationships that help our community access important programs offered by the City. Moreover, SEAC has increasingly engaged in community collaborations to reduce health disparities, improve environmental justice in our neighborhoods, and build stronger families and community. At the same time, members of the SE Asian community have continued to successfully integrate into the greater Worcester community. In the past four years, the rate of Vietnamese voter participation has increased by 40%.

In 2013, SEAC received more than 8,000 client visits and organized more than 2 dozen community outreach events. There’s much work to be done for a small organization with 3 full time staff, 2 part time staff, and an executive director, but SEAC takes pride in helping to build a thriving Southeast Asian community to build a thriving Central Massachusetts.

Anh Vu Sawyer is the executive director of SEAC.