May 26, 2020

Giving Back to Community, a Conversation with Annie

Annie moved to Oregon six years ago, and began volunteering at a Buddhist temple in the kitchen to help processing food to help people, and to meet the Vietnamese community in Portland. Soon after, she started working as a Vietnamese interpreter and began volunteering with APANO for our HPV awareness project with OHSU. Soon after, she applied for the Vietnamese Community Organizer position and is now a team member of APANO.

Since the COVID-19 crisis began, Annie’s been busy distributing donated gift cards to APANO’s community in need, partnering with organizations like NAFCON (National Alliance for Filipino Concerns), Community Alliance of Tenants, UTOPIA-PDX, and many more. At the same time, she’s working as a medical interpreter and studying to be an x-ray technologist.

How has COVID-19 impacted your professional job in healthcare?

Professionally, my work and school has switched to remotely. I always had online classes, and then the clinical training. We can’t go back to the clinic. We cannot learn the actual x-ray process. So everything just went online and we look at video. That’s not good because you need to get your hand in there.

And then my other job, I’m a medical interpreter. They cut down a lot of hours. Some weeks I don’t have any hours and some weeks, I just have probably one or two hours. The thing is if they suspect any COVID-19, they don’t let anyone in there. So even with an interpreter, they will use the video interpreter instead. Being in person, it is not safe for anyone around them. Then all the emergency procedures, there are none. They all restart, so we don’t have any job right now.

What work have you been doing in the community? Why did you start this work?

I believe in karma. If you get something from your community, you have to give it back. So, when, while I'm in PCC I get supported by the PCC Foundation scholarship. And they also help with food or free books. I think that's really good. When I finished my classes I donated my textbook. I gave it back to the library so people who don't have money to buy it can borrow that.

Currently, you’re working around-the-clock to ensure gift cards get out to APANO's community members that are in need. Can you tell us more about that?

Well I try to do my share and mail out all the cards in one day because it will go faster. I don't want to wait, and then the cards will be going away later. And if that happens the community doesn't have money to buy groceries. I tried to do everything like on a Monday, the beginning of the week and do it. I tried to do everything on the same day. I feel like I just give myself pressure to try to do everything at the same time. Lately I feel like I'm more motivated when I have pressure. Like, okay you're gonna do this need.

I also have to translate recently with the Washington County effort where APANO is expanding to Washington County. I try to help people get resources, like translation.

In the light of API Heritage month, what does this month mean to you? Why is API Womxn Leadership important?

In the past, people don't appreciate women leadership. They think, a man should be the leader. But now, society already changed a lot. So, everything man can do I think women can do too.

Annie's Call to Action

Stay at home and remain physical distancing! Make sure to connect! Call your family or friends once a week to check in.

This blog post is part of the API Womxn in Leadership series to commemorate May as Asian Pacific American Heritage Month. This series is also under the banner of #CourageDuringCOVID, a larger project highlighting API Oregonians doing meaningful and radical work to protect one another. Learn more about our Courage During COVID series. This programming content brought to you by APANO Communities United Fund, a 501(C)(3) nonprofit organization.

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