As a young man in Thailand, my dad, Pok, dreamed of becoming a restaurant owner. In 1999, he opened Thai Roses Cuisine in Southwest Portland. Back then, the local Thai community was tiny. My dad’s impression of Oregon was that it was beautiful and had lots of trees. “But sometimes,” he says, “Living here, we feel different. People look at me and look at my daughter and they just think we are Asian.” 

My dad’s restaurant has been a way to help tie the community together. People bring their families for celebrations. We are known as the restaurant on the corner of Beaverton-Hillsdale Highway and Oleson Road. We have been here for so long, we have become a fixture in the community.

When Covid hit, my dad stressed a lot. He said he didn’t know how he would afford everything and take care of the family if we got sick and had to close the restaurant. We stopped doing deliveries and switched to only doing to-go orders. At night, my dad stayed late to wipe everything down to make sure nobody got sick. At the start of Covid, we had two restaurants, we ended up having to close one. But we are also lucky to have such loyal customers; through Covid, people kept coming in for to-go orders and saying how much they missed being able to come eat at the restaurant. 

We worked with APANO to help find grants and resources for the restaurant, and to help us understand Covid guidelines for our family and for the restaurant. We are so grateful that there’s a local organization focusing on Asian and Pacific Islander communities! We aren’t used to that. Growing up, I went to a predominantly white school. They sent out newsletters every week, but my dad could never read them. As a child, I spent so many hours trying to understand their complex wording and explain it to my parents. Now, to have a resource like APANO, which is translating COVID guidelines and being a go-between among traditional structures, Asian businesses, people and families is amazing! 

My dad and I believe in APANO’s work and mission. Please join us in supporting APANO by making your gift today! Donate at https://bit.ly/APANOGG.

APANO’s mission is to unite Asians and Pacific Islanders to build power, develop leaders, and advance equity through organizing, advocacy, community development, and cultural work. Through your gift, you support programs like the small business assistance that helped my dad navigate through the pandemic, as well as APANO’s work to protect our community by sharing vaccine information and hosting vaccine clinics. 

APANO’s staff also support opportunities to help address racism and create community care through their Resilience Series; they help us speak out against anti-Asian hate, and bring our voices to the legislature to call for policies that support our community. One of my favorite APANO initiatives makes our stories and art more visible through events like the East Portland Art & Literary Festival.

We know how it feels to be underrepresented as Asians in Oregon. My dad has been here for a long time and he’s shared his experiences of discrimination. But our community has been instrumental in providing us hope for the future, and we know 2022 will be another important year. As we get through these difficult times, we want to continue to come together and create a better, fairer future for everyone. 

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This programming message brought to you by APANO Communities United Fund, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization.